By Andy Curry, Enforcement Group Manager.
Since the government changed the law in April 2015 to make it easier for us to fine the companies behind nuisance calls, we’ve issued more than £2.7 million in penalties.
It’s a figure that sends out a clear message that the companies behind this nuisance will be held to account.
But another statistic is less welcome. Only 6 of the 27 fines were paid in full. Or to put it another way, £2.26million of the penalties we’ve issued remain entirely unpaid.
And as I said earlier this year, this suggests the individuals behind those companies are not facing the consequences of their actions.
The problem end of this sector is characterised by small marketing companies that pay little heed to the rules. Setting up an operation that can make millions of calls is unfortunately surprisingly easy, with little outlay required on equipment, premises or staff.
It can literally be a cottage industry, and as these companies are typically limited companies, directors can be quick to look to liquidation as a way out of paying fines.
But that could now change with the government’s announcement that it wants directors to have responsibility for making sure their companies follow the law.
This should put an end to directors making large amounts of money from nuisance calls and texts, only to try and duck away from the fine when they’re caught.
As the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham described it yesterday, it will stop directors leaving by the back door as my team is coming through the front door. And it reinforces her message that handling people’s information properly and in line with the law is a matter for the boardroom.
We’ve been calling for a change to the law, and we’re pleased the government is responding to a problem that has often marked a frustrating end to our investigations.
We’re expecting a law change next spring. In the meantime, those companies we’ve already fined won’t be walking away scot-free. The UK has a strong insolvency regime and we work with experienced professionals and the courts to pursue money owed on behalf of taxpayers and those millions of people who have been bothered by unwanted calls.
|Andy Curry heads the team that enforces the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. As well as cracking down on nuisance calls, his team investigates companies behind unwanted texts and emails and takes action when needed.|