Payday loan company First Financial has been fined £175,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for sending millions of unlawful spam text messages.
More than 4,000 complaints were made to the ICO about numbers that were found to belong to First Financial.
Spam text investigation
The ICO said the text messages were sent from unregistered SIM cards, which is a common method used to avoid detection.
Many of the spam texts claimed to be from friends of the recipient recommending First Financial and containing a link to the company.
The ICO ruled that First Financial breached the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which govern electronic marketing and which require organisations to have an individual’s consent before sending text messages.
If you’re being bombarded by spam text messages, read our guide on how to deal with spam text messages.
Stop spam texts
Which? research in September 2013 found that half of people said they’d received an unsolicited text on their mobile phone in the preceding month, with 38% of people saying they now receive more unsolicited texts than they did six months ago.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: ‘Consumers need the regulators to get tough to stop companies persistently bombarding us with unwanted calls and texts so the ICO fine is another welcome step to keep the pressure on firms who break the rules.’
End nuisance calls and texts
Which? research into nuisance calls found that eight in ten people said cold calls are an annoying interruption to their everyday lives while a third of people said they felt intimidated by them.
That’s why Which? launched its Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts campaign. To date nearly 110,000 people have pledged their support.
Which? has been calling on government to take action on nuisance calls and last week the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee published its report on nuisance calls and called on regulators to use their powers more broadly and more often to punish rule breakers.
We want the government to make it easier for the ICO to issue fines, having only to prove nuisance rather than substantial distress has occurred and to introduce a range a of measures to give consumers more control over their data.