The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined yet another company for making nuisance calls, as doubts grow over the regulator’s ability to actually collect the money owed to it.
Over a six-month period from the beginning of 2019, Bury-based Reliance Advisory Limited (RAL) made over 15 million calls to individuals who had not requested them. They included mis-sold PPI and other claims management issues.
Scores of victims complained to the ICO, many of them having been called several times a day by the company. Some noted that RAL staff were rude and aggressive on the phone.
Unsolicited calls for marketing purposes have been banned for over two years under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. However, RAL told the ICO it was unaware of its legal responsibilities.
As a result of this, and its inability to provide evidence of consent for the majority of calls it made, the firm was fined £250,000.
Andy Curry, head of investigations at the ICO, encouraged members of the public to report nuisance calls like these, as well as unsolicited texts and emails, to the regulator.
“Nuisance calls continue to be a matter of great distress, annoyance and significant concern for the public and we will continue to find and take action against the worst offenders,” he said.
“The law exists for a reason, and that is to protect people from this high degree of intrusion into their private lives. Businesses must respect the law and the onus is on them to be aware of their responsibilities. Pleading ignorance of the rules, as was put forward in this case, will never be a valid argument.”
However, as reported by Infosecurity yesterday, there are increasing concerns that the ICO is failing to hold such companies to account. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that since 2015, £6.6m, or over 39% of total fines, are still outstanding.
Of the 21 fines handed out between Jan 2019 and August 2020, only nine have been paid, meaning that 68% of their monetary value remains outstanding. Just 13% of fines related to nuisance calls have been collected.
Experts argue that it’s still too easy for company directors to find ways to avoid paying, such as by declaring bankruptcy.