Five companies have been fined a total of £590,000 for collectively making 1.9 million unwanted marketing calls to elderly and vulnerable people.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the fines were part of a wider crackdown to tackle rogue companies using pressure tactics to sell insurance for white goods such as washing machines and fridges and other household appliances including TVs.
The latest five companies to be fined are SGS Home Protect Ltd, Cover Appliance Ltd, F12 Management Ltd, House Hold Appliance 247 Ltd and RHAP Ltd.
The ICO has now issued £1.45 million in fines to 16 companies since October 2021, many for illegal, unwanted marketing calls to people who had tried to block them by registering with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
The companies often target older people and people with vulnerabilities, and in most instances, people who already had or did not need the service.
In one case, the parents of Jonathan Young made payments totalling more than £2,000 to around a dozen companies after receiving marketing calls for insurance policies that they did not need.
Mr Young tracked the payments through his parents’ bank statements and spent months trying to recover the money.
Two of the companies are among those fined in the ICO’s latest action.
Mr Young said: “Despite opting out of receiving marketing calls, my parents were bombarded by calls from companies selling insurance products.
“They were often left confused about who was calling them and high-pressure sales tactics led to them paying thousands of pounds for policies they didn’t need or really want.
“During one call, I believe my mother may have been coerced into making a payment using my father’s debit card while he was asleep.
“Companies should not be targeting elderly people and those with vulnerabilities in this way and I am grateful to the ICO for its continuing action to help prevent distress to other families.”
It is against the law to make a live marketing call to anyone who is registered with the TPS, unless the individual has informed the specific organisation that they do not object to receiving calls from them.
Andy Curry, head of ICO investigations, said: “We’ve heard harrowing stories of people being hounded with these nuisance calls, and feeling forced into handing over bank details for unwanted and unnecessary insurance.
“We’re working to protect people who are being deliberately targeted because they’re seen as easy pickings by unscrupulous cold callers.”
He added: “Registering with the TPS makes it illegal for companies to call you without your consent. We’d encourage anyone who wants to block unsolicited marketing calls, to either a land line or mobile phone, to sign up to this free service.
“Then, if you or your loved one is on the receiving end of this kind of call, contact the ICO so we can investigate.”
Households can register a landline or mobile phone for free to block unwanted marketing calls by visiting the Telephone Preference Service at tpsonline.org.uk.
Complaints about nuisance calls can be made to the ICO at ico.org.uk.
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