Major brands such as EE are harassing people with cold calls as much as ‘rogue’ companies, warns the UK’s personal information watchdog.
Public omplaints have seen the UK’s largest mobile phone operator placed on report by the Information Commissioner’s Office in its latest report on unsolicited direct marketing calls and text messages.
Sky has been taken off the ICO’s monitoring list after improving call centre and marketing practices which prompted a large number of complaints before Christmas 2013.
“We have concerns about their [EE’s] compliance with the law around both sales calls and marketing text messages, and we’ve already been in touch with them to be clear that enforcement action is a possibility,” said Simon Entwisle, the ICO’s director of operations.
“Our concerns are prompted by consumer concerns, and as we work with them over the coming months, we’ll be monitoring what consumers are telling us about them. With the right changes, it can be a positive journey; one that BSkyB has already completed.”
EE’s compatriots on the ICO watch list are Fusion Media Solutions, Money Saver Telecom, Cold Call Elimination, AMS Nationwide, My IML Limited, Action 365, Enviroglaze, Eolive and Cascade Financial.
PPI and accident claim spam calls are still the leading problem, but they’re being caught by hassle from lifestyle surveys, green energy sales and ‘scrappage schemes’.
Entwisle said that it was a myth that unwanted marketing calls and texts come from a small minority of rogue companies.
“It is certainly true that organisations with little regard for the law do exist, and we spend a chunk of our time looking to target them, but there are just as many – if not more – messages and calls coming from big name, respected organisations,” Entwisle added.
Being contacted by the ICO is usually enough to make businesses change their practices because they don’t want a bad reputation, and complaints often drop quickly.
The ICO has already issued three enforcement notices in 2014 to companies which didn’t improve their practices, handed out more fines and prosecuted three companies under the Data Protection Act.
Enforcement notices went out to Buckley and Henshaw (a preliminary notice), Isisbyte and SLM Connects Limited.
Direct fines included £50,000 against Amber Windows and £175,000 against First Financial (UK), while Becoming Green (UK), Help Direct and Boilershield were all successfully prosecuted and fined.
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