Five British companies are collectively nursing a £405,000 fine from the UK’s data watchdog for making a combined total of 750,000 unsolicited marketing calls targeting vulnerable elderly people.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) was alerted to the quintet’s dodgy dealings after receiving complaints from the public and information from Action Fraud, Trading Standards, consumer rights group Which?, and call block provider trueCall.
All of the calls were made to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), meaning it is illegal for marketeers to ring those numbers unless specific consent is provided.
The offending businesses were selling insurance products or services for white goods and other household appliances. Some deliberately targeted older folk, buying marketing lists that contained data on people aged 60 and over.
The list of shame includes West Sussex-based Domestic Support Ltd, fined £80,000 for 69,133 unwanted marketing calls between January and July 2020. Complaints suggested it was using multiple trading names, which is also illegal.
Home Sure Solutions in East Sussex was slapped with a £100,000 penalty for 229,483 calls in June 2020. It deliberately sought out people over 60 with landline numbers, and bought personal data “without carrying out due diligence” to the way it was collated, the ICO said.
Among the others was Seaview Brokers, also from West Sussex, which made 4,737 calls to TPS members in June 2020. It was fined £15,000 after buying data lists without looking for evidence of consent for direct marketing. UK Appliance Cover, based in London, made 39,167 calls in the six months to the end of 2020. The ICO said complaints received indicated it was “targeting vulnerable people for financial gain,” the callers were “aggressive and threatening,” and there was no evidence that the services being offered were even being provided. The company was fined £100,000.
UK Platinum Home Care Services, also located in England’s capital city, hit dial 412,556 times between March and October 2020. It also bought data specifically on people aged between 60 and 80, and was fined £100,000.
The ICO said that according to the evidence gathered, the companies were either colluding or using the same marketing list to hit their marks. Sadly “this resulted in some people losing thousands of pounds for white goods insurance and servicing which the companies often knew they didn’t need.”
A triumphant John Edwards, Information Commissioner, said in a canned statement: “These are unlawful predatory marketing calls that were targeted at some of the most vulnerable members of our society and driven purely by financial gain.
“It is clear from the complaints we received that people felt frightened and distressed by the aggressive tactics of these companies, sometimes giving their financial details just so they could hang up the phone. This is unacceptable and clearly exploitative.” ®