back to article £220k fines for dodgy dialling duo who didn't do due dil on data

The UK's data watchdog has slapped a £220,000 fine on two firms that collectively made hundreds of thousands of nuisance calls to flog home security services. Middlesborough-based biz ACT Response Ltd and Secure Home Systems, nestled in the West Midlands, made 580,802 calls to people who were registered with the Telephone …

  1. Joe 37

    Counting the seconds till these two outfits are liquidated.

    Many of these fines are never paid.

    Jail the scum.

  2. MonkeyBob
    Thumb Down

    Deterrant?

    "These fines should set alarm bells ringing and deter marketing companies across all sectors that are contacting people without their consent,"

    So that's why we keep seeing them then? Hopefully GDPR will actually have some effect on these scum.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Deterrant?

      The only real deterrent is to take they out behind the shed. Maybe once would be enough. The fines are a "cost of doing business" so they'll either quickly file bankruptcy or just pay the fine and do it again.

  3. I can't believe its not butter

    Big difference between fines and collections

    Has anyone done a FoI request to check the total value of fines issues vs the amount of money actually paid?

    Getting tired of the Watchdog saying "we issued fines" but nothing actually happening. If it is having no affect, time to shut the department down.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Big difference between fines and collections

      Yes, around half of all fines issued are actually paid

      I think the ones paid are the ones to the likes of British Airways for data breaches rather than the ones for marketing related offences.

  4. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Flame

    Mass Dialers

    Is their actually a legitimate use for mass dialing gear other than to extract money from the most vulnerable member's of society, if not then just ban the lot and then use of it would be a criminal offense so the directors of these rackets companies could be held personally responsible.

    1. teebie

      Re: Mass Dialers

      Flood watch? Warning everyone who has signed up in an area that there is a risk of flood, by call, text or email, according to their preference?

      I'm struggling to think of any non-governmental legitimate use though.

      1. Jedit

        Re: Mass Dialers

        Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that's what he means by "mass diallers". Mass diallers don't reach everyone, they call X numbers at once and connect to the first one that picks up. So effectively, all they do is let you talk to a random person from a selection. There is thus no purpose for them whatsoever other than cold calling.

      2. Fatman Silver badge

        Re: Mass Dialers

        In the USofA, many local school districts use them to inform parents of events at their kids local school.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Mass Dialers

          "In the USofA, many local school districts use them to inform parents of events at their kids local school."

          Hacen't they heard of the internet?

          1. Jtom Bronze badge

            Re: Mass Dialers

            Many of us have chosen not to be slaves to anyone who may email us or send a text message, immediately looking at our device when a notification alarm is triggered. Alerts like for weather, disaster, or amber (kidnapping) are used very sparingly, and are usually via cellphone networks, not internet. A phone ringing implies there is a live person at the other end of the circuit who needs to talk to you NOW.

            Send be a text or email notice, and I may not see it for a day or two.

          2. phuzz Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Mass Dialers

            "Hacen't they heard of the internet?" [sic]

            In the US they prefer to have a single supplier of internet connectivity for each region, who will then charge them huge amounts of money for a (by UK standards) terrible connection. And then will charge more for anyone actually using that bandwidth.

            I'm not sure why they prefer it like that, but they allow the companies to pay the politicians loads of money to keep it that way so I can only assume it's by choice.

            That's right isn't it Americans? ;)

      3. Jtom Bronze badge

        Re: Mass Dialers

        Perhaps schools, even non-governmental, to notify parents of closures, threats, etc. But yes, few organizations should need automated, mass dialers.

        Sequential dialers are bad (they start at xxx-xxx-0001 and increment up, not caring if the number is valid or not), but predictive dialers should be effin banned,

        Predictive dialers are programmed with basic statistics that predict what percentage of people can be expected to answer their phone at a particular time. Say it’s 30%, so it makes ten calls for every three available call agents you have, decreasing the wait time agents have between calls. If more calls are answered than there are available agents, the system just hangs up on some, then calls them back a few minutes later. To avoid wasting their time, they don’t hesitate to waste yours. There is a special place in hades for companies using that technology.

    2. EvilGrin

      Re: Mass Dialers

      Yes. the same software runs call centres that handle mostly incoming calls. So Support Centres. Charitys. etc. Like any tool, it can be used for good or evil. Banning the software wouldn't do any good either as there are open source implementations avalible like ViciDIAL.

    3. GnuTzu Bronze badge

      Re: Mass Dialers -- A.K.A Robo-callers

      Well, they are used for political campaigns, often call robo-callers. Yet, some would think that's just another way to extract money from the populace.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Mass Dialers -- A.K.A Robo-callers

        While there are hardware ones, and you could probably ban them, it would be very difficult to tell the difference between a call center using a software autodialer and a call center doing normal jobs. The call center people just say "I finish a call, and my headset rings again. It's not my fault that we're busy", while the admin people say "We just manage the employees and make sure they answer all the incoming calls we have, and also we have to call some of our clients back because they've agreed to it." By the time anyone investigates, the IP phone system has been reprogrammed, so nobody knows for sure what exactly they were doing.

  5. A.P. Veening

    In other news today

    For some as yet unexplained reason, both ACT Response Ltd and Secure Home Systems declared insolvency and are about to be liquidated. The staff is getting shafted while the owners will receive a nice Christmas bonus.

    1. Sonny Jim

      Re: In other news today

      ACT response is still listed as active on companies House and I couldn't see any documents listed about insolvency:

      https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/03645169/filing-history

      Same with Secure Home Systems:

      https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/09015475/filing-history

      1. DJV Silver badge

        @Sonny Jim

        Whooooosh!

      2. Mainframe Wallah

        Re: In other news today

        But for ACT they are fishy... the PSC has been set as the company name.. not a director or person and the shareholders are also the company which for both is a no-no... guess someone trying to hide, but John Oddy was the PSC before..

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: In other news today

      In other other news today two new companies, ACT Response (UK) Ltd and Secure Home Systems (UK) Ltd have been incorporated, and the staff have been offered jobs with them.

  6. julian_n

    Unless or until directors are made personally liable for fines incurred by their companies, I think the ICO are being over optimistic in thinking they will put a stop to these activities

  7. Velv Silver badge
    Flame

    Both businesses can get a 20 per cent reduction if they pay by 28 November.

    Or a 100% discount if they go into liquidation.

    Apart from jailing the directors, it’s about time we consider a threat against employees. If you are making outbound calls all day and almost every caller tells you to fuck off as they are on the TPS you need to at some point realise that the business is breaking the law and that by not whistleblowing the activity you are furthering the breaking of the law. You are at some point committing personal fraud by perpetuating the marketing calls.

    I know this isn’t really a practical rememdy, it is the business owners (and managers) who should be held accountable, but as an upstanding moral citizen, would you continue to work for one of these businesses without calling out the issue?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I know this isn’t really a practical rememdy, it is the business owners (and managers) who should be held accountable, but as an upstanding moral citizen, would you continue to work for one of these businesses without calling out the issue?

      Depends how much rent I had to pay, and how many kids I had to feed.

      Welcome to modern slavery. The next person who calls it the 'Gig Economy' I am going to set their beard on fire and ram their scooter right up their &*^%.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      If you took a job as for example a drug dealer, a contract killer, or a prostitute; you would be personally liable as well as your employer. Why shouldn't it be the same for nuisance callers?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Prostitution is not illegal but I suppose there might be a civil liability if you came away with something you hadn't bargained for but I doubt you would want to bring an action.

  8. GnuTzu Bronze badge
    Unhappy

    Predictive Dialers

    I once got to see a call center using a "predictive" dialing system. That was in the late '80's. Yeah, this crap has been around that long. Call center workers sit in front of a terminal with a head set on. Information on the person being called is pulled up in front of them automatically. The computer predicts when the current call will end--and starts dialing the next call with the objective to have call center worker talking to the next party before they have a chance to take a breath. That way the call center can pound out the calls like a machine gun.

    I've seen a number of call centers, political, corporate, non-profit; they're all very depressing places.

  9. Dabooka Silver badge

    Both businesses can get a 20 per cent reduction if they pay by 28 November.

    Or 100% if they go to the wall before hand and open up again in the new year.

    It's about time the law caught up and we took their houses.

  10. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    Pay the fine in advance

    I think you should pay the fine in advance, before you’re allowed to make large numbers of outgoing calls or texts.

    If it turns out that you’re not a scammer, you can get a refund.

  11. The Nazz Silver badge

    Caption competition?

    "If i don't get the hang of this oral sex quickly, he's gonna poke my brains out"

    It's been a hard day.

  12. Jtom Bronze badge

    For punishment: attach a cellphone to every manager and director the way ankle monitors are, and publish the number. Extend the length of the punishment if a call goes unanswered.

    Vengeance is mine, sayeth the consumer.

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