Three companies offering financial services have been fined £170,000 collectively by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for illegal direct marketing under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
Debt management company, Digivo Media Ltd, which traded as Rid My Debt, was fined £50,000 for sending more than 415,000 text messages, which were delivered, from 24 March 2021 to 7 September 2021.
The text messages encouraged people to get “free advice” or a “free pack” by visiting the Rid My Debt website. These messages were sent without valid consent, which is a breach of the law.
MCP Online Ltd (MCP) has been fined £55,000 for making unsolicited financial services calls about pensions. Between 1 January 2022 and 28 September 2022, MCP made 20,939 unwanted direct marketing calls to people who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
It is against the law to make a live marketing call to anyone who is registered with the TPS, unless the individual has informed the specific organisation that they do not object to receiving calls from them.
The third company to be fined for a breach of PECR is Argentum Data Solutions Ltd, a data processing and hosting provider for organisations to send direct marketing SMS messages. Argentum has been fined £65,000 for both sending and allowing third parties to send more than 2.3million direct marketing text messages without valid consent. These messages promoted a range of services including car finance compensation claims, boiler replacement schemes and housing repairs.
None of these messages identified the sender of the message or gave people the opportunity to opt out of future marketing communications, which is also a breach of PECR.
“We’re working to stop these unscrupulous companies who use predatory marketing communications to target people who are, or who may be, at the most risk of harm. These people could be your elderly parents, grandparents or even a neighbour who might have dementia and the last thing they need is a barrage of unwanted text messages or nuisance calls.
“High-pressured sales calls pushing financial products can cause real distress and harm to the people on the receiving end. That’s why we support the government’s recent consultation calling for a ban on cold calling for consumer financial services and products, and believe this could help reduce the amount of these predatory marketing calls.”
Andy Curry, Head of Investigations