In the latest case this week, the UK's data regulator, fined London-based pensions cold caller EB Associates £140,000 for instigating over 107,000 illegal cold calls to people about pensions.
Data from the ICO shows it has so far fined four firms under the new pensions cold calling legislation (Section 21B of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003) over the past two years including CPS Advisory, Pension House Exchange and Parkin Beacher.
Collectively the 4 firms so far punished by the ICO for unauthorised pensions cold calling have made nearly 350,000 cold calls in the past two years before being stopped.
The fine on EB Associates is believed to be the largest imposed by the ICO so far and comes after the government banned pensions cold calling in 2019. The ICO has also ordered EB Associates to stop making further illegal calls about pensions or face court action.
The ICO has the power to issue fines of up to £500,000 under the legislation for nuisance marketing calls.
Pensions cold calls were banned by the government to try to stem the tide of pension scams, many originating from cold calls.
EB Associates was brought to the attention of the ICO during a wider investigation into organisations making pension cold calls. The company had asked lead generators to make calls on its behalf and paid up to £750 for referrals.
An ICO investigation revealed that the EB Associates-instigated marketing campaign made 107,003 illegal pension cold calls between 11 January 2019 and 30 September 2019.
The ICO found that EB Associates did not have the valid consent - freely given, specific and informed – to instigate the calls. The ICO concluded that EB Associates contracted the lead generators to make the calls, knowing the cold calling ban was in place, in order to try and bypass the law.
Andy Curry, head of ICO investigations, said: “Our priority is to protect people and we will always take robust action against companies operating illegally for their own financial gain.
“Cold calls about pensions were banned to protect people from scammers trying to cheat them out of their retirement plans.”
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