The UK’s privacy and data watchdog has fined four companies a total of £370,000 for breaking local privacy laws.
It said the four had made over 820,000 “predatory” marketing calls to people who had registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which means they have explicitly requested not to be contacted.
The issues began after a 2020 government scheme issued vouchers of up to £5000 to UK citizens, helping them to improve energy efficiency at home.
That prompted loft, window and wall insulation companies to cold call individuals with offers to help them.
However, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) was soon inundated with complaints from TPS subscribers who had received nuisance marketing calls from such companies.
Many complainants were from the vulnerable, elderly and/or those with severe health difficulties, and said the phone-based harassment had caused significant distress. The ICO claimed several companies also used different trading names, which is illegal.
“The complaints we received showed that people were distressed, upset, worried and inconvenienced by the calls. For people to feel this way, in their own homes where they should feel safe, is unacceptable,” said ICO head of investigations, Andy Curry.
“These companies all aggressively pestered people, including some vulnerable individuals, forcibly trying to make them buy products that they didn’t need or want. All of the calls were driven solely by the companies wish to make financial gain.”
The four fined companies are:
- Eco Spray Insulations, which made 178,190 calls to TPS-registered people, and was fined £100,000
- Euroseal Windows, which made 169,830 calls to TPS subscribers, and was fined £80,00 and issued with an enforcement notice
- Green Logic UK, which made 11,825 calls, and was fined £40,000 and issued with an enforcement notice
- Posh Windows UK, which made 461,062 calls, and was fined £150,000
The action was taken under the UK’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which gives individuals privacy rights relating to electronic communications such as nuisance marketing emails and calls.
The ICO has the power to fine erring firms up to £500,000 under the PECR.