Insolvency Service & ICO crack the whip on spam marketing menace
11 February 2019
The Insolvency Service has imposed a six-year ban on the director of a company that made more than 115,000 automated marketing calls to citizens without obtaining their prior consent.
In October, the Information Commissioner’s Office imposed a £70,000 penalty on a company called The Lead Experts for willfully making more than 115,000 automated marketing calls to citizens between February 2015 and September 2016 without obtaining their prior consent. The watchdog also found that the company did not include a company name and contact details in recorded messages that accompanied such calls.
The quantum of the fine also covered the fact that Aaron Stalberg, who was the company’s sole director, lied to the ICO by initially claiming that the company never indulged in automatic dialing and that the company had only purchased a small batch of test leads and made a small number of calls.
Following the ICO’s ruling, The Lead Experts neither paid the fine nor did the company lodge an appeal, forcing the ICO to refer the matter to the Insolvency Service and demand disqualification of Aaron Stalberg for his role in the company’s misconduct.
Insolvency Service bans spam marketing firm’s boss
Last week, the Insolvency Service announced that it had imposed a six-year ban on Stalberg from promoting, forming, or taking part in the management of a company. The ruling took place after Stalberg informed the Secretary of State that he “did not dispute that he failed to ensure The Lead Experts complied with the direct marketing regulations after the company had made unsolicited automated direct marketing calls”.
“Despite the company protesting they had made only a small number of calls, investigations by the ICO confirmed that they had made more than 100,000 unsolicited calls, amounting to a serious breach of the regulations and people’s privacy.
“This ban reflects the seriousness of these actions and we will continue to work with our partners at the ICO to take firm action against those whose conduct falls below accepted commercial standards,” said David Brooks, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service.
“Our powers to protect the public from companies like theirs making nuisance calls and sending spam texts, have recently been made stronger than ever as we can now make directors and managers of the companies responsible personally liable for fines of up to £500,000. This will help stop them from closing down one rogue company and setting up in business again,” said Andy Curry, ICO Investigations Group Manager.
Earlier this month, the ICO also fined Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance a total of £120,000 after concluding that Leave.EU used personal data of Eldon Insurance customers to send up to 300,000 political marketing messages.
An investigation launched by the ICO last year has resulted in the conclusion that both Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance used personal data of each other’s subscribers to send hundreds of thousands of direct marketing and political marketing messages without obtaining sufficient consent from targeted subscribers.
These fines were issued under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 which authorizes the ICO to issue fines of up to £500,000. As the said violation took place prior to the arrival of GDPR, both firms may have escaped much larger fines for accessing personal data of citizens unlawfully.