Halifax-based company fined by the ICO

A Halifax-based company fined by the ICO was found to have been making unlawful pension calls. 

A Halifax-based company, Parker Beach LTD (PBL) has been fined by the ICO, a total of £50,000 for unlawful cold calls regarding pensions, according to this report from the ICO. The ICO’s investigation revealed that the company, which operates under the trading name “Your Pension Options”,  made calls to people regarding their pensions, looking to arrange an introduction to an advisor. These calls were unauthorized, and resulted in 16 complaints to the ICO. The company has admitted to making over 96 thousand calls. Pension cold calling was banned in 2019, specifically to protect vulnerable pensioners and their retirement funds, as cold calls are admittedly one of the more common ways of defrauding people out of pension and retirement funds. 

Pension calls have been outlawed since 2019, and are only allowed under very few, specific conditions. 

Pension calls are outlawed, unless certain conditions apply. If the caller is authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), or is the trustee or manager of an occupational or personal pension scheme, or if the recipient has an existing relationship with the caller and has consented to calls, these calls are considered lawful. This stance was taken in 2019, making it illegal for companies to make nuisance cold calls to people regarding pensions schemes. The ICO’s Head of Investigations, Andy Curry has stated that cold calls have been a common tool in fraud, and for that reason, tough action will be taken on companies who utilize this kind of marketing. He said in a statement, “Companies are responsible for knowing the law and following it. We have a range of powers and enforcement action which we can and will take on behalf of the public to put a stop to the activities of unscrupulous companies.”

The ICO fined the company and issued an enforcement notice ordering them to make no further calls. 

In their investigation, the ICO uncovered that PBL sourced the data for its calls from a third party supplier which obtained the data itself from various websites. Signing up on the site required users to agree to possible marketing from an extensive list of organizations from various sectors. It did not appear possible that these users could select which, if any of these organizations, they would like to have their details forwarded to or from which they would like to receive marketing material. This means that PBL did not obtain clear, informed consent. As a result the company was hit with a fine for £50,000, and also an enforcement notice ordering them stop making further calls. Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), the ICO can issue fines of up to £500,000

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