Nuisance call fines in the UK tripled to £1.14 million

Phone - Fines against nuisance call firms in the UK tripled this year to £1.14 million, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The regulator received around 170,000 complaints this year,from people who’ve received nuisance calls and texts, a similar number compared to the previous year (2014: 175,330).

However, the ICO issued significantly more fines in 2015, up from £330,000 in 2014 to £1.14 million.

The increase in fines follows a law passed in April which made it easier for the regulator to penalise firms for nuisance calls/texts.

The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.

Monetary penalties are paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and not kept by the ICO.

The hardest hit firms were those selling pharmaceuticals, call blocking services, and payment protection insurance (PPI) compensation.

ICO enforcement manager Andy Curry said: “Nuisance marketing calls frustrate people. The law is clear around what is allowed, and we’ve been clear that we will fine companies who don’t follow the law. That will continue in 2016.

“We’ve got 90 ongoing investigations, and a million pounds worth of fines in the pipeline.”

A Swansea-based call centre called Help Direct UK, which sent thousands of spam texts for PPI claims and loans, received over 7,000 complaints in just one month and was fined £200,000.

Spam refers to the sending of thousands or millions of identical unsolicited messages online simultaneously.

A pharmacy firm selling customer details to postal marketing companies and a firm selling call blocking services called Cold Call Eliminations, were fined £130,000 and £75,000 respectively.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer watchdog Which? said: “Millions of people are still being plagued with nuisance calls so it’s good to see more firms being fined for flouting the rules.

“However we also need to see further action including much tougher penalties for senior executives of companies making unlawful calls including board directors being held personally accountable.”