Posted on 15.4.14 by Christian Mancier
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has recently issued a £50,000 fine to a company called Amber Windows after an investigation by the ICO discovered that Amber Windows had been making unsolicited telephone calls (i.e. cold calls) to individuals registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
The Telephone Preference Service (www.tpsonline.org.uk) is a service where individuals can register their phone numbers (landline and mobiles) as a way of opting-out of receiving unsolicited sales or marketing calls from businesses and other organisations such as charities, voluntary organisations and political parties.
Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) the TPS acts as a general opt-out from receiving unsolicited sales and marketing calls and there is a legal obligation on businesses and other organisations to screen the list of numbers registered on the TPS to ensure they don’t make unsolicited calls to numbers which have been registered with the TPS for at least 28 days.
In practice this involves organisations obtaining a licence form the TPS to access and search against the list of registered phone numbers to ensure compliance. Licences can be obtained via the TPS website referred to above and cost up to £2,200 plus VAT per annum depending on the type of licence – a small price in comparison to the £50,000 fine issued to Amber Windows, the maximum fine of £500,000 that can be issued under the PECR and the damage that can be done to the reputation of your as a consequence of the bad publicity associated with breaching the PECR and being the subject of enforcement action by the ICO.
The rules regarding the TPS also apply to numbers who have been contacted previously by a business or organisation and which are subsequently registered with the TPS unless the business or organisation has an express consent elsewhere from the individual concerned consenting to marketing contact by phone from the relevant business/organisation.
In addition Amber Windows were also issued with an Enforcement Notice by the ICO obliging them not to call individuals who had told Amber that they did not want Amber to contact them again. Enforcement Notices carry potential criminal liability on an organisation if they are not complied with going forward. This aspect highlights the importance of making sure that any request from an individual not to be contacted again by phone is complied with by the business or organisation to which such a request is made.
If your business is making unsolicited sales and marketing calls to consumers then it is vital that you screen the numbers you are proposing to call against those registered on the TPS and comply with any requests from individuals who do not want to receive any further calls from your business/organisation.
If you need any further advice to ensure your business/organisation has appropriate policies and procedures in place to ensure compliance with the PECR or Data Protection Act, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me at email@example.com or via twitter @mancier