ICO takes action against firm that tried to dodge nuisance call rules

Passing off nuisance calls as legitimate market research “will not wash”, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) head of enforcement has said.

Steve Eckersley’s warning came as the ICO issued a stop order against a company that falsely claimed it was phoning people as part of a lifestyle survey – a practice known as “sugging”.

Bolton-based Change and Save Ltd asked people when they had made or last updated their will. It maintained it was allowed to call people who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service because its survey was not subject to direct marketing rules.

But an ICO investigation, sparked by 254 complaints, found that the calls went on to promote will-writing, funeral and legal services. This was direct marketing so Change and Save Ltd did break the rules when it phoned people registered with the TPS.

Mr Eckersley said:

Firms trying to avoid direct marketing rules will be quickly found out – people spot a nuisance call when they get one. We know this because people complain to us. Trying to disguise a nuisance call as a survey or market research simply will not wash.

The ICO has imposed a legally binding enforcement notice on Change and Save Ltd banning it from “sugging”. If it does not comply with the stop order, the firm will face prosecution.

Source: ICO website