Record fine for company for making nuisance calls on an ‘industrial scale’.

A solar energy company has been fined a record £200,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for making millions of unsolicited calls to people offering ‘free’ solar panels.

The Scottish company, Home Energy & Lifestyle Management Ltd (Helms), made over 6 million telephone calls to households using an automated system. The rules on telephone marketing set out in The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 prohibit making automated marketing calls unless the person has specifically consented to receiving them, and in this case no consent had been provided and the company was not even aware of the relevant rules.

Between the period October – December 2014 the ICO had received 242 complaints. One Complainant said that they felt like their home had been invaded and another stated they were waiting for news of a terminally ill family member and couldn’t ignore the phone, and felt powerless against the automated calls.

Steve Eckersley, Head of Enforcement at the ICO said: “This company’s ignorance of the law is beyond belief…The monetary penalty is for a significant amount because of the clear failings of the company, and the number of people affected by its deliberate and unlawful campaign”

The fine has sent a warning to other companies of the huge cost they may face for a lack of awareness and adherence to the regulations governing this area. The Information Commissioner has suggested that companies make their directors personally liable for any breach of the rules to further deter unlawful practices.