ICO warns contact centre to stop sending pension texts

icoThe ICO has warned Help Direct UK, a financial services call centre, to stop sending spam texts asking people if they want a review of their pension.

An enforcement notice has been issued by the Information Commissioner after a total of 659 complaints were made to the ICO and the ‘7726’ spam text reporting service. People said they had received the following unsolicited marketing text from the Swansea based company:

Andy Curry, Enforcement Group Manager at the ICO said:

“The way in which this company has been operating is completely unacceptable. Not only were members of the public receiving text messages they hadn’t signed up for, but the content was completely misleading.

“The complicated investigation revealed a web of lies told by the company as to how they obtained personal information and whether they were sending text messages at all.

“This enforcement notice should send out a strong message to all companies who use unsolicited marketing text messages to stop and think about what they are doing. Once the law changes on 6 April it will be much easier for our office to take action against companies sending spam texts and making nuisance calls.”

The ICO investigation discovered that 187,960 texts were sent by the company over nine months covering subjects like PPI, payday loans, pension reviews and debt management.

It is a breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations  to send text messages to people for marketing purposes without their prior consent, and anyone who receives anunsolicited text message should avoid replying and report the message using the survey available on the ICO website.

Spam texts can also be reported to the network operator by sending them, free of charge, to ‘7726’. The networks are also working to block the worst offenders.

The ICO has published detailed guidance for companies carrying out marketing – explaining their legal requirements under the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The guidance covers the circumstances in which organisations are able to carry out marketing over the phone, by text, by email, by post or by fax.

For additional information please see ICO’s Website

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