The claims company repeatedly called households that were registered with the Telephone Preference Service –a system which aims to prevent unwanted marketing and cold calls.
801 complaints were reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), with some people reporting they had been called hundreds of times over a relatively short period.
A disabled pensioner admitted they were afraid of the persistent calls and despite telling the company this, Direct Assist continued to make contact.
After the fine was issued, it became clear Direct Assist could no longer continue and HMRC requested the company enter liquidation. ICO will claim the fine as an unsecured creditor in the liquidation process.
Chair of the TPS and executive director of Which?, Richard Lloyd, said in a statement: “This company has driven a coach and horses through cold calling rules and it’s good the ICO has acted decisively. We want to see more fines when the rules change next week to make it easier for regulators to punish firms making these calls”.
“We also want to see senior executives held personally responsible for their company’s behaviour on nuisance calls, which could include disqualifying company directors if they flout the rules.”
With new laws introduced this month, the ICO will start serving larger fines (potentially to £500,000) and regulations to companies that continue to cold call households without permission. A very welcome change!