A Manchester company behind thousands of spam texts has been fined £80,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Text messages from claims management firm Quigley and Carter Limited prompted more than 2,600 complaints in just two months. This led to an ICO investigation which found the company had broken the rules around direct marketing.
Stephen Eckersley, ICO head of enforcement, said:
“People were left annoyed, angered and upset by these texts. The rules around electronic marketing messages are simple and there for a very good reason – to protect people’s privacy rights and stop unwanted phone calls, texts and emails.
“We committed to target organisations that broke the rules. Quigley and Carter should have known the rules and obeyed them. They failed to follow the law and so we’ve acted – to show them and others that organisations cannot ignore their obligations.”
The law says that organisations must only send marketing text messages to individuals if they have agreed to receive them, except where there is a clearly defined customer relationship.
Quigley and Carter contracted a third party to send the texts on its behalf but failed to check properly that the individuals to whom the messages were sent had consented to receive them.
The text messages were directing individuals to Quigley and Carter’s website which offers services to do with mis-sold packaged bank accounts.
This is an example of a text sent by the company: “Why pay a fee for your bank account when you don’t have to, 2108.45 is being paid on average, fill out ... for us to send yours out ASAP”
Thousands of complaints about the texts were made to the ICO and the 7726 spam reporting service, including the following:
“It was extremely annoying. I have received the same text from five different numbers.”
“Angry and upset that my details are being shared and used without my consent.”
“I am being bombarded with unwanted text messages, where did they get my information from, it’s making my life a misery.”
There is advice on the ICO website about what individuals can do to avoid unwanted spam texts and how they can report them.
The ICO’s direct marketing guidance offers advice to help responsible organisations keep within the law when sending advertising by electronic means, such as by telephone, email or text.