ICO raids companies suspected of sending 11 million nuisance texts

Two addresses in Greater Manchester searched

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has raided two addresses in Greater Manchester as part of an investigation into companies suspected of sending 11 million unsolicited text messages.

Enforcement officers for the data watchdog searched offices in Stockport and a house in Sale as part of an ICO investigation into companies believed to be responsible for sending the deluge of unwanted text messages to UK mobile numbers between January 2017 and January 2018. The ICO said it had received 3,297 separate complaints.

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The messages themselves were mainly to promote financial management services such as pensions and loans and also claims management for issues such as PPI and flight cancellations. The ICO said that recipients were unable to identify who the calls were from or opt out of them which is also against the law.

The unnamed companies had computer equipment and documents seized for analysis. The ICO's enquiries into alleged breaches of the laws surrounding unsolicited telephone marketing continue.

Andy Curry, the ICO's enforcement group manager, said that such messages like this are a real problem for people as seen in the number of complaints the ICO has received in this case alone.

"Businesses and individuals who carry out this type of marketing, should be assured that we will carry out thorough investigations and take tough action against them where necessary. Along with existing evidence, we hope the evidence seized in the raids will enable us to stop this business's activity and act as a deterrent to others," he said.

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In February, the ICO fined a Welsh home improvement firm for flouting a warning to stop contacting people who had opted out of marketing calls. Direct Choice Home Improvements Limited was given a 50,000 civil monetary penalty by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in March 2016. The ICO was forced to prosecute Direct Choice under its criminal enforcement powers for breaching the notice.

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