back to article Five British companies fined for making half a million nuisance calls

Britain's data watchdog has slapped financial penalties totaling £435,000 (c $529,000) on five companies it says collectively made almost half of million marketing calls to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Under local laws, it is illegal for businesses to make live marketing calls to anyone who is …

  1. bofh1961


    Jail would be more appropriate.

    1. Swordfish1

      Re: Fined?

      Jail and a fine would be more appropriate

      1. SIP My Drink

        Re: Fined?


        - Jail Time

        - Fine

        - Disqualification From Being Company Director (In Extreme Cases)


        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: Fined?

          and barred from using the public telecommunications networks under the telecomms act(s). For life. No mobile for you mr scammer

  2. RPF

    Those fines are at least 2 orders of magnitude too low.

    1. tony72

      I wonder how much those companies are making. I suspect those fines will just be an inconvenience.

      1. dogcatcher

        I suppose that writing a chit for the petty cash is a bit inconvenient.

      2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

        I doubt even that. They'll be declared bankrupt so unable to pay. Then a very similar company will appear in the same location with the same directors. Rinse, repeat, ad infinitum

        1. ske1fr


          One of my many work streams used to involve looking at the London Gazette, yes, the dead tree edition. The number of official notices asking for a director of a failed company to be allowed to be a director of a new company with a remarkably similar name to the dead company was shocking. Companies House and company law are not fit for purpose, although I may have a divergent opinion on what's fit and unfit... it's working for some, clearly.

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    What profit did the rogues make ?

    The fines should be at least this amount - payable by the directors not the companies (which they will prolly bankrupt to avoid paying)

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: What profit did the rogues make ?

      Definitely. It's a slap on the wrist and only shows that crime does pay. I'm sure the company director(s) involved are rolling on the floor laughing.

  4. Flak

    A Game of Whac-a-mole

    No doubt the companies will fold with minimal assets and lots of debt. Fines may be issued but not collected.

    Meanwhile, the culprits will suffer little personal loss and establish another company and start again.

    That is what needs to be stopped.

    1. OhForF' Silver badge

      Re: A Game of Whac-a-mole

      With a total of £435,000 for fines and around half a million cold calls the fine is low enough that those companies probably can factor in those fines as a cost of doing business and still have a viable business model -> no need to fold.

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: A Game of Whac-a-mole

      Exactly. I automatically read the headline as "Five British companies become insolvent and directors declare bankruptcy because they know they can get away with it."

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: A Game of Whac-a-mole

        Be interesting to know whether these companies are still trading or were trading at the time of enforcement action being taken.

        I seem to remember that the rules were being changed so the ICO would be allowed to chase the directors of such companies but I may be imagining that ...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keep us posted when the victims receive their compensation

    otherwise, what's the point of the ICO ?

  6. Twanky

    So they used personal data gathered for one purpose (TPS) for a different, incompatible purpose (cold call telesales)? Isn't that a GDPR infringement? Where's the Eur 10m fine?

    SWMBO and I fall into the 'over 60 and on the TPS' category. We've noticed a significant increase in telemarketing bastards over the past few years. Also, of course, scammers/fraudsters. I must be getting slow - it never occurred to me that TPS itself could be being used against us.

    If I've got enough time I like to string them along. I once got a 'you've got a computer virus' scammer to call back two days running before he twigged. My! Such language from a 'BT tech support' bod!

    One thing I hadn't realised was that TPS only covers 'live' marketing calls. I'll have to check up on that.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Automated marketing calls are illegal unless you opt-in. That's why TPS, an opt-out register doesn't cover them.

    2. Alumoi Silver badge

      TPS (and all alternatives) is a gold mine for scammers. A full set of verified info on potential victims.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Definitely. That's why I never click "unsubscribe", I just blacklist the spammer's whole domain (using wildcards if they use numbered domains).

        1. WonkoTheSane

          This is about voice calls, not emails.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            I know, my point was simply about the fact it's useless telling people you don't want their pointless ads: You shouldn't. It always backfires.

    3. SonofRojBlake

      I used to string them along

      At first it was "Which accident that was not my fault do you mean? I have a LOT of accidents."

      Then it was "Thank god you called, he's getting away, his number plate is AK58... oh, you've hung up..."

      Then one day, and I can't explain why, the nice lady who rang to discuss my injury compensation (I hadn't been injured) was allowed to do her full spiel, then got the following question: "What are you wearing?". It's a sad indictment of our society that she knew exactly where that was going and hung up immediately.

      The next lady who called to help me with the problem with my computer (I wasn't having a problem with my computer) was asked the same question, but didn't understand. "What do you mean?"... "What sort of clothes have you got on?". Hung up.

      The next caller wanted to help with the accident that wasn't my fault, but when I asked "What are you wearing?", responded with "Why do you need to know what I'm wearing?". I thought in for a penny, in for a pound, and said "How am I supposed to masturbate to the sound of your voice if I can't picture you while I'm doing it?".

      Well, let me tell you - he did NOT like that. Such language, before he hung.

      Tell you what though - the calls stopped for a while. I think I was put on a list. Possibly a register.

      1. TDog

        Re: I used to string them along

        I had one today - trying to help me with my 'slow' internet. For some reason communications broke down. I'll use asterisks to prevent shy embarassed criminals from being upset

        HIM: Is there any particular time when your internet is slow?

        ME: Well yes actually.


        ME: When I'm trying to upload pictures of me shagging your mother up the *rse.

        ME: Strange she really reminds me of you.

        HIM: What?

        ME: Yes, she even looks like a c*nt. Piss off criminal.

  7. Tony.

    'The two businesses have appealed the monetary value of the penalty notices.'

    Well, if after the fines they still made a profit, the fines are not large enough!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waste of time

    I consider these to be scam calls. Nuisance is just far too polite.

    Most of the scam calls I get come from South Asia. They are made by Indians using British names.

    When they can get those scumbags shut down then the ICO might not be a total waste of space.

    I get relatively few UK based scam calls. There is one from 'my local energy efficiency advisor'. If they are genuinely local then at least they could fake a local phone number instead of one in Manchester.

    As my home has an 'A' rating there is little I can do to improve it.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Waste of time

      Most of the scam calls I get come from South Asia. They are made by Indians using British names.

      When I get an obviously Indian accent saying a variant of "Hi, my name's Colin" I tend to reply with "Hello, my name's Krish".

      1. navarac Silver badge

        Re: Waste of time

        When I get a call from an Indian accent, I just put the phone down. Shame if they genuinely work for BT or Virgin Media for example. But that's life, guys.

      2. WonkoTheSane

        Re: Waste of time

        I prefer saying "I'm terribly sorry old chap, but I don't speak a word of English. Good day to you.", in my best Mr Cholmondley-Warner.

  9. Mr. V. Meldrew

    One Word!


  10. Fonant

    Far too easy to set up a Limited Company in the UK, scam people, and then shut it down again.

    Being a "Ltd" is no longer a sign of trustworthiness, sadly. Companies House needs to completely re-think how it controls limited companies and the people creating them.

    1. Commswonk

      Companies House needs to completely re-think how it controls limited companies and the people creating them.

      I think you are assuming that Companies House has powers that it simply does not have.

      It is a register*, not a regulator.

      * Funny that, in one way or another...

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        There are plans to change that. Hopefully they will work.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        The only person ever prosecuted for giving Companies House false information was the person trying to show there was a problem:

        Britain, headquarters of fraud

        Companies House's lack of checks is used to launder money worldwide:

        How Britain can help you get away with stealing millions: a five-step guide

        Two years ago it was announced that checks were going to be introduced:

        Companies House to verify directors' identities before being listed

        And since then nothing has changed:

        Companies House is dysfunctional and facilitating fraud, MPs told

        One can only assume it's like this because it's convenient for those in power.

        1. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

          "One can only assume it's like this because it's convenient for those in power"

          Sure is. That's how political party donors, often appointed to the House Of Lords, can avoid scrutiny of their contracts for unusable medical equipment.

          People like Matt Hancock's pub landlord, or Michelle Mone and her husband for example.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          I screwed up the first link, here it is again.

    2. Pseu Donyme

      An Ltd is a bit too convenient for deliberate liability avoidance and other shenanigans. Perhaps only publicly traded companies should be allowed to be Ltds i.e. they'd need to be something like limited partnerships (at least some partners with personal liability, crucially) until an IPO and listing at which point the partners would become shareholders of the new Ltd. This might also chill schemes by private equity (and other) masters-of-the-universe as the reverse would need to happen when taking an Ltd private.

  11. Commswonk


    From the article: Under local laws, it is illegal for businesses to make live marketing calls to anyone who is signed up the TPS.

    In what way are UK Data Protection & TPS observance "local laws"?

    1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      The UK is a small district outside of the USA, and this is an american website!

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Eh?

        At least we're no longer a candidate for 51st state.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      Fantastic when US publications use the phrase "local laws", it's as if they had the same importance as Macclesfield's dog fouling bylaws.

      No, they're "national laws"... AKA "laws".

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Eh?

        If I'm reading a report about Indonesia (random, other countries are available) and it mentions what the local laws are, I don't get all uppity about it being a national law. Do you?

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Eh?

          Tell me you're a USAian without telling me you're a USAian.

        2. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Eh?

          Would you call a law passed by Joe Biden a "local law". Or do you consider local laws to be the ones passed by your city mayor?

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      Indeed. "Local laws" means things like Westminster City Council's byelaws relating to the licencing of ice cream vans. This is a national law that was copied and pasted from EU law.

  12. Farcycle

    I'm glad I got my parents a callblocking phone, whitelisted all family, friends and important companies leaving anyone not on the whitelist to have to declare who they are before the phone even rings. 99% of them don't pass that hurdle, and the few that try, answer so incomprehensively my parents just hang up on them. I scan their call list when I can and add any dodgy numbers to the blacklist. I recommend one for the elderly, does sometimes catch valid callers out, but I whitelist them too for next time.

    1. Giles C Silver badge

      My parents have one as well sometimes there are 30+ missed calls on the phone of people trying to get through…

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I set up a an asterisk server for my Parents - it just dumps any number that isn't in it's known list to voicemail - virtually no scammers leave a voicemail whereas genuine but unknown callers will - works quite well for them.

        1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

          >> number that isn't in it's known list to voicemail

          That's what we do, if the number is not in the phone's memory or withheld, then it goes to voicemail - if they really want us they will start to leave a message and we can then answer the call.

          scammers just hang up

  13. heyrick Silver badge

    I clickbaited this article...

    ...because I said to myself the fines imposed will be pathetic in comparison to what they likely got away with.

    Less than £1 per call.

    Sucks to be right.

  14. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "those [...] who'd registered with Telephone Preference Service"

    Obviously unaware of the Eleventh Commandment.

    One can only suppose either that they're incredibly stupid or they believe they'll make more money while they succeed than the aggregate penalites they incur when they're caught. If you want to be successful as a fraudster you have to be a lot smarter than that.

  15. Dave Pickles

    Companies House info

    AUKL is unknown to Companies House.

    BCBL and BBL have the same directors and seem to be ongoing companies.

    RPUK has filed to be struck off but the action has been suspended.

    UGL has also filed to be struck off.

  16. Lost in Cyberspace

    No surprises

    2 of the companies are being wound up.

    Separately, 2 of the others are controlled by the same people so they got caught twice.

  17. Scott 26

    The court is making me call everybody back and apologize for my telemarketing scam. I'm sorry. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me, send one dollar to Sorry Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield. You have the power.

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