back to article ICO fines PPI claims firm £80,000 over 1.3m spam SMS deluge

The Information Commissioner's Office has served up penalty of £80,000 to a PPI claims company that sent more than 1.3 million spam texts. Brum-based UKMS Money Solutions Limited (UKMS) had bought numbers in bulk from list brokers which it subsequently spammed to encourage people to make compensation claims for mis-sold …

  1. DJV Silver badge

    Good

    Pity the fine wasn't higher for these annoying scumbags.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good

      A flogging's too good for them!

    2. mhoulden

      Re: Good

      I like the idea of fining them £80K per text, and then banning the directors of the company from running any more claims management companies so they can't do it again.

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: Good

        Fine the company directors personally, not the companies. Those fines should be paid out of income on which tax has been paid - ie not tax deductable.

        1. LucreLout

          Re: Good

          @Alain Williams

          Fine the company directors personally, not the companies.

          Fine them, then bar them from further directorships for 10 years. The powers already exist, and there's no reason to allow them to repeat the trick at their next gig - otherwise they'll just factor in an approximate level of fines into their compensation expectations.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Good

      The fine can be any size. Company folds, no fine is paid, director starts another company, rinse, repeat.

      As long as the fines are not personal and the penalties are not criminal this will not stop.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just shut them down

    and ban the directors from holding directorships ever again.

    Then when they startup a new company and do the same send them to jail, do not pass go etc

    Yes I'm peed off. Had four phone calls already today. Yes John, I know that you are in India but working for a UK company does no get you off the hook.

    1. Tony S

      Re: Just shut them down

      Totally agree; the penalties need to be far higher, and stopping the buggers from being able to legally start up would be a start.

      However, I suspect that the people that are comfortable doing this are also going to be the type that would be happy to purchase false documentation and just keep going under different names. Jail time might make them think twice.

  3. Phil Endecott

    6p per text

    Should have been a thousand times more; then it would be comparable with a parking ticket or letting your dog shit on the pavement.

    Even compared to the number of complaints it's a tiny fine; it surely doesn't even cover the cost of submitting and processing the complaints.

  4. Dr Paul Taylor

    Completely useless

    without making verifiable caller id mandatory except for domestic callers.

  5. Sir Barry

    The Register has contacted UKMS regarding the firm's response to the fine. We have not received a response as of publication

    Have you tried sending a text message?

  6. Tromos

    How about the number brokers?

    It is surely obvious that not everybody on the list of numbers has agreed to be contacted, and of those that have, most have been conned by small print clauses when signing up for something totally unrelated to PPI, accident claims, boiler insurance or whatever.

    A short spell in jail plus a ruinous fine just might make the number peddlers seek another way to make a living.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about the number brokers?

      The biggest number brokers are the telcos themselves.

      It is one of the reasons why I got off BT and moved to a pure VOIP setup 8 years ago. BT will sell your line number regardless of what you enter in the telephone preferences. So will the rest. There ain't such thing as ex-directory - it will be in at least one form of marketing data dump and it will be purchased by someone. At the very least it will be used by the idiots themselves.

      Compared to that I have had zero nuisance calls on for 10 years on Sipgate until they decided to alienate and piss off all of their residential customers this year. I have since moved to Teleappliant. No calls either.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: How about the number brokers?

        " BT will sell your line number regardless of what you enter in the telephone preferences. "

        A section 11 DPA notice would make such an act a criminal offence.

        I make a point of flinging them at companies when I setup new accounts.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just sign them up legally to every spam company on the planet, work emails, home emails, mobiles, family mobiles (not kids mobiles, I'm not a monster) and see how they like being on the receiving end.

    Make sure everyone knows exactly why they are being bombarded with junk 24/7, and who is responsible.

    They will never do it again.

  8. MR J

    They probably spent more actually sending the darn'd things anyhow!

    I know you can get bulk msg's (paid) for about 2-3p each, so this penalty only raises the cost slightly.

    If something gains £500,000 in profit from calls, and your penalized £80,000 for making the calls, then it is a no brainer!

    Either close the door on the mass mailers, or make the fines a "per text /call" type of fine.

    I can see the current gov wanting to get rid of this anyhow, they like to kill off things that stagnate business.

    1. Martin Summers

      It's nothing to do with the government stopping them. It's the morons that answer random unsolicited adverts and give them business that spurs them on.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's the morons that answer random unsolicited adverts and give them business that spurs them on.

        Some may be morons, many are often victims of fraud. Listen to any incoming robo-call about energy efficiency, and they'll peddle lies that the UK government are committed to replacing all non-condensing boilers by 2015/6/7/whenever (or offering free cavity/solid wall insulation, free PV etc), and that <victim> is eligible for a free boiler under the Energy Company Obligation rules.

        In these cases the first claim is an outright lie, and the second is usually an outright lie. But if you're not too clever, or a bit confused, or simply trusting, then it can sound plausible, and before you know it there's a foot-in-the-door salescreep in your living room pushing you to sign now for a one-day-only discount.

        I'm with those demanding huge fines and disqualification for those involved. But that needs to go beyond the directors, and include operational managers. They know as well as directors that what they're doing is wrong, they choose to take the salary and ignore the law, so fine them.

  9. TonyJ

    I don't tend to answer any calls from unknown numbers any more

    By which I mean not just witheld but any number I don't recognise.

    If it's important they can leave me a voicemail and I'll return the call.

    I know this is about SMS but those numbers just go onto the ever increasing block list.

  10. Mark 85

    Catch-22?

    So if I read this article right, you have to sign up and agree to get spam before you can be spammed? Or is spamming you with a message/e-mail and asking if you wish to be spammed ok?

    I'm wondering how the "opt-in for spam" is set up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Catch-22?

      SMS or email are covered by the Privacy and Electronic Comms Regs.

      In essence you have to consent to receive marketing although there is a grey area that says companies can contact you to see if you still wish not to receive marketing (although this in itself is marketing but thats by the by).

      Non-response is not consent so if you have opted out and then get a message saying we will assume you want our sh** if you dont reply then you aren't required to reply and any marketing you receive subsequently is illegal.

  11. Rol

    If ten thousand people each gave £1..

    to a suitable go-between and that person then gave the bulk of that money to some local thugs along with the address of the telescam shed.

    Would the life sentence be shared equally among the ten thousand to equate to one day in prison?

    Would that also work out cheaper than paying the costs of maintaining a tax funded organisation that has effectively announced the cost guide for such malpractice is generally less than ten percent of profits.

  12. Alan Brown Silver badge

    The thing about these fines.

    It's one thing to announce them and another to actually collect them.

    An Astute ElReg Reporter might ask such questions of Ofcom. Be prepared to resort to FOI (and be ignored).

    In the meantime I'll stick with using "CallControl" app to keep the fucktards at bay (it collates spam messages across subscribers and builds stats on origin, as well as being a distributed blocking system)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The thing about these fines.

      An Astute ElReg Reporter might ask such questions of Ofcom. Be prepared to resort to FOI (and be ignored).

      An Astute ElReg Reader might simply look at the ICO's last annual report, which shows that for the financial year 2014/15, civil monetary penalties of £1,129k were issued (clearly not enough by a factor of at least 10x), £167k of early payment discounts were credited, and £205k of impairments were recorded.

      Put simply, that's 18% of penalties not paid, and the volume of discount suggests that penalties were either paid early in full less the early payment discount, or not at all. My guess is that the early payment discounts are largely the public sector and large corporates who ended up being fined through incompetence rather than wilful intent, but will pony up their fines. But that means the impairments are from the scumbag bottom feeders who knew what they were doing, didn't care, and have no intention of either paying their fine or of desisting from their illegal practices.

      So I think that supports the subtext of your post, that is that the vermin get away with it, probably by bankrupting a disposable company to avoid paying. Whilst it is difficult to stop that happening, the ICO should automatically apply for relevant directors to be disqualified when a penalty is unpaid, and pursue criminal prosecutions for repeat offenders.

  13. PaulAb

    But...

    If these heros of PPI are closed down how ever will I find out how to make a claim.

    And next I suppose they will pick on those nice people from Microsoft who phone just to tell me that my computer is infected, well, if that isn't just plain good old fashioned courtesy, I don't know what is, they can have my passwords anytime.

    Rt. Hon. David Cameron

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like