Coventry firm fined £260k for 16.7m automated calls
The Information Commissioner’s Office has fined Coventry firm Easyleads Limited £260,000 for making 16.7 million automated marketing calls.
It brings the penalties handed out in the last week to companies behind illegal recorded messages to £610,000, after the ICO fined Welsh-based Your Money Rights.
Easyleads did not have specific consent from people that it made automated calls to about boiler grants, which is against the law.
The firm also broke the rules by not including a company name and contact details in the recorded message.
More than 550 complaints were made to the ICO about Easyleads Ltd. Many of these were from people who said they received multiple calls whilst others expressed further distress that they had been awaiting urgent calls only to receive an automated message about boiler replacements.
One complaint was: “I am a pensioner and ex-directory so it was disturbing to get this call.”
Another member of the public complained: “I am waiting for a call about my mother’s imminent surgery.
“Rushing to answer the phone to these jokers makes me even more anxious. They need to be stopped.”
There were further complaints about the calls being made late at night and in the early hours of the morning, with particular frequency over the May 2017 bank holiday weekend.
ICO investigators found the firm deliberately misled people by referring to a government scheme and the offer of a free boiler.
Andy Curry, ICO enforcement group manager, said: “We hear first-hand from people how utterly disruptive, annoying and sometimes distressing automated calls can be.
“Firms cannot expect to get away with intruding into people’s lives like this.
“We’re here to take action, like we’ve done today, to stamp out this modern day torment. When people report nuisance calls to the ICO, it helps us do that.”
Following the ICO’s investigation, Companies House posted plans for Easyleads Ltd to be struck off and dissolved. The ICO has made clear that it is committed to recovering fines it has issued and will work with insolvency practitioners and liquidators if a company moves to insolvency after being fined.
The ICO’s powers will be further strengthened when the government introduces a new law allowing it to fine the company directors behind nuisance call firms. Making directors responsible will stop them avoiding fines by putting their company into liquidation.
Mr Curry said: “The law change to make directors personally liable for illegal marketing calls can’t come soon enough.
“If a company tries to avoid an ICO fine by going out of business then they’re no longer making troublesome nuisance calls. But the change in the law will add to the tools we have to hold them fully – and personally -accountable for the nuisance and distress they’ve caused.”
Nuisance calls can be reported via the ICO’s online reporting tool.