Huge fine for call centre in text scam

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A CALL centre has been fined £200,000 for sending thousands of spam texts that prompted almost 7,000 complaints in one month alone.

Help Direct UK Ltd used unregistered SIM cards to send the messages, a common practice by companies trying to avoid the mobile networks’ spam detectors, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said.

A campaign run by the company in April prompted 6,758 complaints by people who received messages offering services such as PPI claims, bank refunds and loans. A typical badly-worded text read: “Its been signed off, we have 3886.41 in your name for the accident you had, for us to put in your bank.”

One complainant said they had never had an accident and were concerned that someone could be fraudulently using their identity.

Another person said they were concerned they may have unknowingly caused an accident.

The ICO issued an enforcement notice seven months ago ordering Help Direct to stop sending marketing texts after a previous investigation showed it had sent 187,960 messages last year, many offering pension reviews. The ICO said breaching an enforcement notice was a criminal offence and it was now considering further action.

ICO assistant commissioner, Anne Jones, said: “This was a marketing campaign on a massive scale from a company who has already been warned to stop sending these marketing messages. They have deliberately broken the law by continuing to send messages, which is why the company has received the first monetary penalty under our new powers.”