Will-writing company fined £30,000 for unsolicited marketing calls

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11 November 2016

Wills: calls contravened regulations

Wills: calls contravened regulations

A will-writing company has been fined £30,000 for making unsolicited marketing calls to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

Assist Law, based in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, generated 99 complaints from TPS subscribers in the year April 2016, prompting an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The ICO said it was “reasonable to suppose that considerably more calls were made” to people who did not complain.

Assist Law made the calls using information from a third-party company, which claimed the people on its list had opted in to receive unsolicited direct marketing calls when they entered competitions and the like.

It is against the law for companies making marketing calls to telephone people registered on the TPS. The ICO said companies should carry out regular checks to make sure they are not calling people on the register.

It decided that the complainants had not opted in and that the company had been negligent because it should have known it was in contravention of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it.

The ICO warned Assist Law in May 2015 that complaints had been made and subsequently notified the company each time another one was received.

Enforcement manager Andy Curry said: “Despite repeated warnings, this company failed to take the basic steps required by law. They should have asked for evidence of consent and screened against the TPS list to check whether people had chosen not to receive marketing calls.

“They relied on a separate company to do this, which wasn’t good enough. Any company that instigates a marketing campaign is responsible for taking these steps. Assist Law broke the law.”

There is a 20% early payment discount, so if Assist Law pays the fine by 5 December, it will only have to cough up £24,000.

The government recently announced plans to introduce fines of up to £500,000 for company directors heading up nuisance marketing firms. The new law is expected to come into force next spring.

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