Do you know the law around marketing consents? Here’s quick look at the cost of getting it wrong. Last month the ICO took action against Elia Bols, director of AMS Marketing. The company was wound up in April 2019, so the ICO worked with the Insolvency Service to successfully disqualify him from setting up a UK company or acting as director or manager in a UK company for 6 years.
While Mr Bols was director, AMS Marketing made over 75,000 unsolicited marketing calls between October 2016 and December 2017 to UK numbers. Some of the numbers called by AMS Marketing were registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), who received 71 complaints about the unsolicited marketing calls. The ICO also received an additional 32 complaints. So just 0.13% of the total number of calls led to complaints, but that was enough to merit a £100,000 fine for AMS Marketing. There do not have to be a large number of complaints to attract the attention of the ICO. Back in 2007, Gordon Dick was awarded over £1,300 (£750 fine plus over £600 expenses) for receiving a single spam email from Transcom, an Internet Services company.
AMS Marketing Limited should have checked the TPS list before making those calls and removed the numbers of individuals who had elected not to receive unsolicited contact. To avoid the £100,000 fine, Mr Bols wound the company up in April 2019 but the ICO pursued enforcement which ended with his disqualification. Mr Bols’ career as a respectable businessman is over.
The ICO commented:
”Our work with the Insolvency Service has seen the successful disqualification of 17 directors who have shut their business down to try and avoid paying a fine for illegal marketing activity. Nuisance calls, emails and texts can be a huge problem and often cause people real distress. By taking unscrupulous directors out of action, we can help protect the public and their privacy. “
Do you know how compliant your company is? Make sure you know the rules in the UK around marketing consents. They are primarily governed by the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR), which has been in force since 2003. The rules did not change as the GDPR came into effect, but have been strengthened several times over the years since its introduction. In December 2018, the PECR were strengthened to allow directors to be held personally accountable and fined when their companies breach marketing legislation.
If you have a company, take steps now to make sure your staff are following the rules because you could be held personally liable for their ignorance if their actions lead to complaints against your company. You can find out more about the PECR here. Or you could talk to us.