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ICO whacks Welsh biz with £350k fine for 150 MEEELLION nuisance calls

Not that data watchdog expects to get that money paid

By Rebecca Hill, 15 Sep 2017

A Welsh firm responsible for 146 million nuisance PPI calls has been slapped with a £350,000 fine by the Information Commissioner’s Office - not that the data watchdog is confident that penalty will be paid.

Your Money Rights (YMR) - which had its authorisation as a claims management company cancelled in May - instigated 146,020,773 automated direct marketing calls in under five months. The ICO said this was the largest number of such calls it had issued a fine for.

The watchdog received some 255 complaints about the calls, which were made between March and July 2016, with some of those saying they had received more than one call a day.

"These are unsolicited calls that are becoming unbearable due to their persistence, regularity (1-2 per day) and interruption of my daily activities, usually close to meal times. It's time they were stopped!," one disgruntled recipient told the ICO.

To make matters worse, the company did not identify itself on the calls, which made it harder for people to complain about the firm’s behaviour.

Companies can only make automated marketing calls to people that have previously consented to such communications from them. YMR did not have this, meaning it was in breach of the law, for which the ICO handed down a significant but not a record-breaking fine.

However, it isn’t clear that YMR, which has its registered office in Durham - although that has moved three times in the past year - will be able to pay up, because its directors are currently seeking to dissolve the company.

The ICO said that it was “committed to recovering the fine” and that it would work with the liquidators if the company, whose latest accounts are almost two months overdue, does move into insolvency.

In an effort to stop businesses dodging the financial bullet in this way, the government last year announced that it would introduce a new law to allow the ICO to penalise a company’s directors for their firm’s nuisance calls.

Steve Eckersley, ICO head of enforcement, said that this change in law “can’t come soon enough”.

"If a firm goes out of business to try and duck an ICO fine then they’re no longer making troublesome nuisance calls. But the new law will increase the tools we have to go after them and hold them fully accountable for the harassment, annoyance and disruption they’ve caused."

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing