Easyleads Limited fined £260,000 for 16.7 million automated marketing calls

unwanted marketing calls

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Easyleads Limited £260,000.00 after they reportedly made 16,730,340 automated marketing calls without obtaining proper consent from the recipients.

In total, 551 complaints were made to the ICO.

Easyleads were found to have violated the Data Protection Act and the Private Electronic Communications Regulation (PECR) for the illegal calls, and the fine was imposed as a result of their actions.

In the ICO’s investigations, they found that Easyleads could not prove they’d obtained the recipients’ consent. The Commissioner noted that simply telling people their details will be shared with others does not constitute as obtaining freely given, specific and positive indication of consent.

Regulation 24 of the PECR prohibits companies from making automated calls without identifying who the caller is, their address and how they could be reached free of charge. Nuisance calls can be annoying and distressing, and repeatedly receiving unwanted calls where the recipient can’t even speak to a real person can be even more frustrating.

The ICO revealed some examples of the complainants’ experiences with the unsolicited calls:

  • “I am a pensioner and ex-directory so it was disturbing to get this call.”
  • “The repeated calls waste time and are like harassment.”
  • “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.”

Some calls were also made at inappropriate times which angered people even more. Some were made late at night and some in the early hours of the morning; something not many would appreciate. The complainants noted that a lot of the unwanted calls were made over the May 2017 bank holiday weekend.

The ICO was unimpressed with the reportedly deliberate and misleading nature of the calls. The automated messages apparently mentions an offer of a free boiler with a government scheme; a move that the ICO did not stand for.

Andy Curry, an enforcement group manager at the ICO, slammed the calls as:

“…utterly disruptive, annoying and sometimes distressing… Firms cannot expect to get away with intruding into people’s lives like this.”

After the conclusion of the ICO’s investigations, Easyleads Limited is due to be struck off and dissolved. The ICO will be working closely with insolvency agencies to recover the penalty fine.

Curry commented on Easyleads’ insolvency and expressed his eagerness for the new General Data Protection Regulation to come into force. The new EU legislation should give authorities like the ICO more powers in enforcing data protection rules, including holding bosses personally accountable so they can’t just blame it on the company as it dissolves.

Curry gave this warning to business owners who might attempt to abuse communication laws in the future:

“If a company tried 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!”

IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.

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