The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) yesterday issued a fine of £90,000 to Cumbernauld based DM Design for making nuisance marketing calls.

The ICO and the Telephone Preference Service received over 2000 complaints about DM Design. DM Design telephone operatives were consistently acting in flagrant breach of Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) during their live marketing calls attempting to sell kitchens and bathrooms. 

Part of the allegations against them included consistent failure to check whether individuals had opted out of receiving marketing calls (as required under the PECR), and abusive behaviour. In one reported instance an employee refused to remove a complainant’s details from the company's database and threatened to “continue to call at more inconvenient times like Sunday lunchtime”.

The ICO has said that it has warned another two companies it will be issuing significant fines against them over breaches of the law in the next few weeks. It also stated that a "further ten companies are subject to ongoing investigation for cold-calling and sending spam text messages". 

The ICO has the power to issue penalties of up to £500,000 for serious breaches of the PECR, and its sister regulator OFCOM has the power to issue penalties of up to £2,000,000 for abandoned and silent calls. What is significant is that this is the first time that the ICO has issued a penalty fine under the PECR relating to live marketing calls. It shows a growing intolerance for unlawful marketing calls and texts, coming very soon after the ICO fined two individuals £250,000 for barraging the public with spam texts.

The message is clear: businesses should ensure that all marketing (whether by email, telephone or text) complies with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, or risk facing huge fines from the regulators.