back to article UK data watchdog whacks £300k fine on biz that made 9 million nuisance calls

A Liverpudlian business was today slapped with a £300,000 fine for making 8.7 million nuisance calls. The Information Commissioner’s Office said Holmes Financial Solutions had paid “no heed” to telephone marketing laws or to the distress such calls can cause. The biz, which offers services like debt management, was found to …

  1. Steve Todd

    And the amount they will actually pay?

    Probably zero, as the directors leave to form another (remarkably similar) company and this one goes broke.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: And the amount they will actually pay?

      even if they do have to pay, the fine cost per call made is pitifully low

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: And the amount they will actually pay?

        Yep, I make it 3.33p a call.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: And the amount they will actually pay?

          Yep, I make it 3.33p a call.

          You malign our hard working ICO.

          It was a mighty 3.41p/call, a massive £0.0008 over 3.33p for every single call.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And the amount they will actually pay?

      You mean like Elementary Finance Ltd incorporated 14/07/07 with the directors being Mr Robert Mark Carson and Mr Mark Anthony Foley who are also the directors of Holmes Financial Solutions Ltd with both companies sharing the same registered address, Elementary Finance also do not currently have a web presence whereas Holmes do. They could always use Homes Insolvency Ltd incorporated 3/11/17 that would save on stationary. There's also CFJ Holdings Ltd (Carson/Foden/Jones - Jones is a director of Holmes).

      The rabbit hole is deep.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And the amount they will actually pay?

      This is the rot from within. The Govt sets up the ICO but fails to empower them with the ability to genuinely punish the offenders but still gives itself a huge fucking pat on the back for a job well done. Meanwhile, that dataset with all those contact details merely gets sold to another startup who repeats the cycle all over again.

      The ICO isn't worth shit.

    4. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: And the amount they will actually pay?

      Quite probably. However the insolvency service make quite a thing of banning directors of companies that don't pay such fines. The wheels of justice turn slowly but they do turn.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "verbal assurances from its data dealers"

    Not worth the paper it's... Oh wait.

    Seriously, these data dealers and the company know exactly what they are doing and why they don't give written assurances. We need legislation that if you sell data for marketing you must specify, where it's from, what consent you have, and how you obtained it then to not do so leaves the managing director of both companies criminally liable.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When is the ICO going to do the same for the "Green Deal Funding" double glazing people? Their recorded message comes through several times a week as "International".

    I have even followed up the call-back to get more information about the UK company behind it. Ended up with a mobile number ostensibly from their call centre. That number is also one other people have raised with the ICO for direct marketing "Green Deal" calls.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "When is the ICO going to do the same for the "Green Deal Funding" double glazing people? Their recorded message comes through several times a week as "International"."

      I get similar ones offering "green deal" or "scrappage" (I forget which) for oil fire boilers, only people on benefits being eligible. Never having had an oil fired boiler or claimed benefits, I'd realy like to know where they get their data from. Sadly, despite pressing "5" for more information at least three times now, no one has bothered to call me back.

  4. Da Weezil

    Another one bites the dust....

    Company entering liquidation in 5....4....3...2....

    Its a farce, just like much of the alleged protections in place.

    Make the directors criminally liable with high penalties and forfeiture of both business and personal assets. Its the only way to deal with this scum.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Another one bites the dust....

      Even easier solution, make fines exempt from limited liability so penalties can not be evaded by voluntary bankruptcy.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about....

    ...closing down the solicitors / lawyers that use these companies.

    No, "oh we don't know how they got this customer for us" as an excuse.

    Ban them from practise for life, watch the volume of calls drop.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: How about....

      And how about the illustrious El Reg submitting an FOI request to the ICO asking (a) the total number of companies fined, (b) the number that actually paid up, (c) the total of all the fines imposed, and (d) the amount of money that has actually been handed over? (Assuming of course that it hasn't already done that.)

      Might be useful ammunition in persuading HMG that allowing the guilty to go into liquidation and start again the following week with a different name is not, and never has been, acceptable. It would be legislative change that would be welcomed by (nearly!) all.

    2. Uberior

      Re: How about....

      Ah, but it does matter.

      The call handlers were acting as the firm's agents. Even though the law dates back to the late 19th centure (with various revisions), it's still very relevant today.

      For a while I was being spammed by emails inviting me to "improve my credit history" by taking out a high-interest credit card from several of the banks that focus on the sub-prime market. The mail was being generated by a third party mailing house "not directly from the advertiser"

      The complaint bounced between the ICO and Financial Ombudsman. Until the ICO confirmed that the banks, when they engaged their agent, should have undertaken due diligence that I had given clear consent to receiving these details. I accepted £1000 from each of them for my distress at being targeted for a sub-prime credit card, and a further £1000 when one bank's agent started emailing me again 13 months later.

  6. Alan Sharkey

    Web site still working

    Their web site is active - with a freephone number and a glowing reference from "Linda of Liverpool".

  7. Julian Bradfield

    Good Omens

    I imagine that Hastur's telephonic visit to a call centre will raise loud cheers if it's included in the film. Unfortunately, I don't think he was tech-savvy enough to know what to do with pre-recorded auto-diallers...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Good Omens

      "I imagine that Hastur's telephonic visit to a call centre will raise loud cheers if it's included in the film."

      Good Omens? Wow! I had a severe moment of discord at the Hastur reference. My first thought was Marion Zimmer Bradlys Darkover books I read when I was a teen!

  8. 0laf Silver badge
    Trollface

    Getting to the point now where you just have to ignore any number that starts 0203

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the names in the frames are

    Company directors names are recorded and available for Companies Act purposes, as required by law, at

    https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/08506845/officers

    Carson, Robert Mark (total 6 directorships)

    https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/kyZAVW9xcTdV7zV99Ouzj47iCjg/appointments

    Foley, Mark Anthony (total 6 directorships)

    https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/DKVuVuv8JHHH2KEnQoF76XUxDZI/appointments

    Jones, Mark (total 3 directorships)

    https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/2wsi50Y9sVXE4pKOOg77bDNSYhU/appointments

    Share and enjoy, especially if you're passing near their address for correspondence (again as required by UK Companies Act), at 35 Meridian Business Village, Hansby Drive, Speke, L24 9LG.

    But remember to do your due diligence before visiting, otherwise you risk getting fined 3p for every time you interrupt them without authorisation. That's the way it works, right?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Public Records

    Just 2 days ago I received a phone call for a "vacation getaway" that also mentioned a website so that you could select your friends to enjoy the same amazing deals.

    A quick WHOIS search and public records revealed the owner of the business.

    The owner didn't find it very amusing when I called to ask him if he'd like to participate in a short survey.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Public Records

      Its a shame you had to breach whois EULA for that though, although I admit I am now very tempted to do the same.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: EULA

        "Its a shame you had to breach [whatever] EULA for that though"

        The lawfulness of shrinkwrap and clickthrough EULAs is very rarely tested, let alone proven, in the courts. That applies to the UK and elsewhere, the theory being that once the first one is definitively proven unenforceable, the whole clickthrough/shrinkwrap can of worms becomes unenforceable.

        Do you have a simple pointer to the whois EULA to which you refer?

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Public Records

        "Its a shame you had to breach whois EULA"

        What EULA? whois is a standard Unix command. The nearest thing to a EULA here is the GPL.

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          Re: Public Records

          I stand corrected, I do believe the Unix command pre-dates any EULA by ICANN.

  11. Terry 6 Silver badge
    Flame

    Err?

    Holmes Financial Solutions Ltd has paid the price for their negligence

    Pretty low price then. A bargain I'd say.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ICO

    Looks like they're practicing for the big time post GDPR.

    Chocolate teapot.

  13. Loud Speaker Bronze badge

    So roughly the equivalent of "a slap on the wrist with a soft pillow".

    (Sounds like the potential title of a reggae song by Si Cranstoun. - maybe I need more coffee).

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