Five “shameful” companies have been fined a total of £435,000 for targeting people over 60 with nearly half a million unlawful marketing calls.
The firms were “deliberately targeting” those signed up with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) – a register for those who do not want to receive marketing calls – to sell insurance for washing machines, kitchen appliances or boiler cover.
It is against the law to make a live marketing call to anyone who is registered with the TPS, unless they have told the specific organisation they do not object to receiving calls from them.
Homeowners over 60 with a landline were targeted by the companies, who used pressure tactics with a view to getting payment details, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said.
The ICO investigated and fined the firms – Allapplianceservices UK Ltd, Boiler Cover Breakdown Limited, Boiler Breakdown Limited, Repair Plans UK Limited and Utility Guard Limited – as much as £140,000.
Allapplianceservices UK Ltd, based in Brighton, used pressure tactics during calls, insisting card details were given, with one person saying they “just wanted AUKL to go away” before handing over payment details, the investigation found.
Boiler Breakdown Limited, based in Sutton, Surrey, made 348,724 unsolicited direct marketing calls to people registered with the TPS, between January 1 and August 31 2020.
Repair Plans UK Limited bought data which asked for people aged 60-plus, were homeowners and had a landline, while Utility Guard Limited took money from a person who has dementia, the ICO said.
Andy Curry, head of ICO investigations said: “The pressure tactics, and sometimes false or misleading statements these companies used were completely unacceptable.
“To be made to feel as though you have to hand over your bank details simply to get someone off the phone is nothing short of shameful, and that is why we have taken action against these companies.”
The ICO has issued more than £2 million in penalties against rogue companies responsible for nuisance calls, texts and emails in 2022.