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Marketing companies punished after hiding identity while making nuisance calls

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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ordered two telephone marketing companies in North West England to clean up their practices after over 100 reports were made to the regulator that the companies were making nuisance marketing calls.

It is believed that the true number of complaints against Isisbyte Limited, based in Oldham, and SLM Connect Limited, based in Darwen, may be far higher, as the ICO has found evidence that both companies have been making nuisance calls while failing to correctly identify themselves.

All of the concerns were raised between January 2013 and February 2014. At the time, SLM Connect Limited had contracted Isisbyte Limited to carry out a marketing campaign on its behalf. SLM Connect Limited took no steps to make sure Isisbyte Limited were complying with the law. Both companies also conducted marketing calls on their own behalf.

The warnings and prosecutions are a part of the ICO’s continuing work to crackdown on firms making nuisance calls. The ICO has also successfully prosecuted two other firms this month (Becoming Green (UK) Ltd, a green-energy deal company and a plumbing company Boilershield Limited) for failing to register with the ICO.

ICO Head of Enforcement, Stephen Eckersley, said:

“The law is clear: every company making live marketing calls must not contact people who have already registered with the Telephone Preference Service. Isisbyte Limited and SLM Connect Limited not only failed to do this, but also tried to hide their identity by routinely telling people that they were calling from a different company.

“We have issued both companies with enforcement notices ordering them to improve their practices. They now find themselves in the last chance saloon, with the companies’ directors facing a potential criminal conviction if they fail to comply with the notices and the companies looking at a possible monetary penalty of up to £500,000, if they fall foul of the law again.

“The public are fed up of receiving nuisance marketing calls and we will continue to punish those responsible for breaking the law.”

The ICO has published detailed guidance for companies carrying out marketing explaining their legal requirements under the Data Protection Act and 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.

The ICO is also continuing to work with the government, OFCOM, the telecommunications industry and consumer groups, including Which?, to tackle the problem of nuisance calls. Further information about this work can be found on the ‘What action have we taken?’ section of the ICO website.

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