Telemarketing Software Featured Article

UK Office Fines Illegal Telemarketer $117,000

February 23, 2016
By Tracey E. Schelmetic - Telemarketing Software Contributor

While the Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) plays “whack-a-mole” with illegal telemarketing operatives, handing out stiffer and stiffer fines in the hopes of discouraging companies from taking the risk of violating the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR (News - Alert)), the rest of the world struggles with the very same issues. In the United Kingdom, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) oversees violations of telemarketing privacy rules. Individuals who believe they were called illegally can file complaints with the ICO, and the agency takes action against the most egregious violators. The ICO also maintains the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), the official central opt out register on which phone subscribers can record their preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls (similar to the federal do-not-call list in the United States).

The ICO recently took action against Manchester, England-based MyIML, a telemarketing company that sells solar panels and other energy-efficient equipment after more than 1,000 Britons registered with the TPS were illegally contacted by the company, according to The Manchester Evening News’ Patrick Greenfield. MyIML had been handed a warning in the past to cease calling customers whose numbers were on the exclusion list. The company is now liable for an £80,000 ($117,000) fine.

“MyIML, which were based in Fountain Street, initially received a warning about their conduct but the ICO decided to impose a fine after the company continued calling individuals registered with the TPS,” wrote Greenfield. “But on Wednesday [February 17], the company’s director says the firm had already gone out of business after being fined £20,000 in 2014.”

Phone (News - Alert) subscribers in England reported to the ICO that the firm continued to call numbers registered with the TPS even after being asked not to do so. One ICO official believes that the company called far more numbers illegally than the fine indicates.

“We received a large number of complaints about MyIML but it is probable these were only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the people left agitated and upset by these calls,” Andy Curry, the ICO’s Group Enforcement Manager, told The Manchester Evening News.

The UK’s Telephone Preference Service goes even further than the U.S.’s Telemarketing Sales Rule. It’s a legal requirement that all organizations including charities, voluntary organizations and political parties, ensure they are not making calls – either landline or mobile -- to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have the called party’s consent to do so. The Telemarketing Sales Rule exempts charities, research organizations and political organizations from having to avoid numbers on the federal do-not-call registry.

In November of last year, British consumer and privacy officials launched a crackdown on companies engaging in illegal telemarketing practices.