ICO fines CPS Advisory £130,000 for unauthorised pension cold calls

CPS Advisory has been issued with a £130,000 fine by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for making more than 100,000 unauthorised pension cold calls.

The ICO found that between 11 January 2019 and 30 April 2019, the Swansea-based company had made 106,987 calls to people without lawful authority, and decided that this had been “a significant intrusion into the privacy of the recipients of such calls”.

New laws from 2019 mean that companies can only make live calls to people about their occupational or personal pensions if the recipient consents to the calls or has an existing relationship with the caller, and if the caller is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority or trustee/manager of a pension scheme.

ICO said it was not satisfied that CPS Advisory had adhered to either requirement.

ICO head of investigations, Andy Curry, said: “Unwanted pension calls can cause real distress and even significant financial hardship to often vulnerable people, who can end up losing their hard-earned pension pot to scammers.

“This company clearly flouted the law when they should have known better. Businesses making direct marketing calls are responsible for understanding their responsibilities under the legislation, ignorance is no excuse.”

The changes were made to Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation (PECR) in January 2019, with the intention of protecting people from falling victim to pension scams through cold calling.

Breaches of PECR can leave businesses facing fines of up to £500,000.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, added: “Pensions cold calls are the most common method used to initiate pension scams, which can rob people of their hard-earned savings and ruin lives. That’s why we banned them. Today’s fine should act as a warning to others that pensions cold calling is unacceptable, and those found flouting the rules will be held to account.”

A spokesman for The Pensions Regulator, commented: “This £130,000 fine should be a strong deterrent to any firm thinking of flouting the law on pension cold calls.

“If you are contacted out of the blue about a pension ‘opportunity’ – that’s illegal and probably a scam. Hang up and report it to the ICO.”

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