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Record fine for nuisance calling company

Millions of nuisance calls result in £200,000 fine

Couple receiving a nuisance call

A green energy company has been fined a record £200,000 after it was found to have made millions of nuisance calls in a solar panel marketing campaign.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the fine handed to Home Energy & Lifestyle Management Ltd (Helms) was the largest it has issued for nuisance calls.

It ruled that the Glasgow-based firm breached marketing call regulations with its campaign which ‘made people’s lives a misery’.

The ICO said its investigation found that Helms made more than six million calls as part of a massive automated call marketing campaign offering ‘free’ solar panels.

You can help the ICO identify and sanction other cold calling companies. We’ve created a free tool you can use to report nuisance calls direct to the regulators.

Nuisance callers should sit up and take notice

An organisation should have people’s permission – which specifically names the company concerned – to make automated calls, but the ICO said it found this was not the case with Helms.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: ‘A bumper £200,000 fine by the ICO should make nuisance callers sit up and take notice. We now also need to see senior executives held personally accountable if their organisation makes unlawful calls.

‘With the Government looking at making caller line ID mandatory for marketing calls and increased action from regulators, telecoms providers must now play their part and use technological fixes to help cut off nuisance calls.’

A Which? campaign to end nuisance calls has so far been supported by a quarter of a million people, all calling on the Government to make senior executives accountable by law for their company’s nuisance calls, and require businesses to show their number when they call.

We also want you to have more control over how your personal data is used.

Like a home invasion

In the period from October to December last year, the ICO received 242 complaints about calls from Helms.

One complainant said they had been waiting for news of a terminally ill family member and could not ignore the phone, and felt powerless against the automated calls.

Another said they felt as though their home had been invaded as the answer machine filled up with calls from the company.

Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said: ‘This company’s ignorance of the law is beyond belief. It didn’t even bother to find out what the rules were and its badly thought-out marketing campaign made people’s lives a misery.

‘The monetary penalty is for a significant amount because of the clear failings of the company, and the number of people affected by its deliberate and unlawful campaign.’

Home Energy & Lifestyle Management has said the campaign stopped before the ICO investigation commenced.

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