A company behind 100m nuisance calls has been fined a record £400,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after more than 1,000 people complained about automated calls.
The calls by Keurboom Communications Ltd, made over an 18-month period, related to a wide range of subjects but mainly road traffic accident claims and PPI compensation.
Some people received repeat calls, sometimes on the same day and during unsociable hours. The company also hid its identity, making it harder for people to complain.
Some calls were also misleading by giving the impression that they were urgent and related to a recent road traffic accident or an ongoing PPI claim.
Companies can only make automated marketing calls to people if they have their specific consent. Keurboom did not have consent and so was in breach of the law.
Steve Eckerlsey, head of enforcement at the ICO, said: “Keurboom showed scant regard for the rules, causing upset and distress to people unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of one its 100m calls.
“The unprecedented scale of its campaign and Keurboom’s failure to co-operate with our investigation has resulted in the largest fine issued by the Information Commissioner for nuisance calls.”
Following the investigation, Keurboom has been placed in voluntary liquidation. The ICO said it was committed to recovering the fine by working with the liquidator and insolvency practitioners.
During the investigation, the ICO had to issue seven information notices ordering the company, which was registered in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, to provide information. When it failed to comply, Keurboom and its director, Gregory Rudd, were prosecuted and fined at Luton Magistrates’ Court.
Mike Lordan, director of external affairs at the Direct Marketing Association, backed the ICO’s action and said: “We hope that, in the future, rogue marketers will face the real threat of prison when abusing consumers in this way, which will be an effective deterrent.”
The ICO said its powers would be strengthened when the government implemented its plan to allow the regulator to fine the company directors behind nuisance call firms. This aims to stop them avoiding fines by putting their company into liquidation.
In 2016/17, the ICO issued 23 companies a total of £1.9m for nuisance marketing, its busiest year to date. The previous record nuisance call fine was in February 2016, when lead generation company Prodial was fined £350,000 for making 46m nuisance calls.