West Sussex cold-call-blocking firm fined for cold calling

A company claiming to help people block cold calls has been penalised for illegally cold calling.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it was fining Chichester-based Cold Call Elimination Ltd £75,000 after it ignored warnings from the ICO to stop making ‘unsolicited marketing calls’.

Steve Eckersley, ICO’s head of enforcement, said the company continually broke the law by calling people on the telephone preference service (TPS) – an opt-out list for marketing calls.

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“This company clearly knew the law, but continued to break it by calling people on the TPS,” he said.

“It’s clear some of the people called by this company were very distressed by the calls and as some of the people receiving the calls were elderly or vulnerable this was an aggravating factor.”

The ICO said elderly and vulnerable people were being offered a call-blocking device to stop unsolicited calls – the same type of calls the company itself was making.

Residents claimed ‘aggressive cold callers’ pressed them to take subscriptions to a service that seemed to be the equivalent of the free TPS.

According to the ICO: “One complainant said the sales person implied they were calling from the statutory TPS. Another said money was taken from their account despite turning down the service and a bank account had to be cancelled to stop the contract.”

The company, which is based in Metro House, on the Northgate roundabout, was given a period to improve under monitoring by the ICO but ignored the warnings, according to the watchdog.

“This monetary penalty has been issued to make sure that Cold Call Elimination realise that it is unacceptable to operate in this way,” continued Mr Eckersley.

“It should also be a warning to other companies that we will act if companies are found to be breaking the law.

“It’s ironic that the products they were trying to sell should have blocked the very calls they were making.”

Over a two-year period, the ICO and TPS received 382 complaints from TPS-registered people.

Companies are not allowed by law to call anyone registered on this service unless they have specific consent.

The ICO made its decision on September 14 and the cash must be received by October 15.

The penalty notice can be read in full here.

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