ICO fines Keurboom Communications £400,000 for 99.5 million nuisance calls

ICO dishes out a record fine after 1,000 people complained about receiving automated calls from the company.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined a company behind 99.5 million nuisance calls a record £400,000.

Keurboom Communications was handed the ICO’s highest ever nuisance calls fine after more than 1,000 people complained about receiving automated calls from the company.

The calls, made over an 18 month period, related to a wide range of subjects including road traffic accident claims and PPI compensation. Some people received repeat calls, sometimes on the same day and during unsociable hours. The company also hid its identity, making it harder for people to complain.

Specific consent

Companies can only make automated marketing calls to people if they have their specific consent. Keurboom did not have consent so was in breach of the law.

Steve Eckersley, ICO’s head of enforcement, said: “Keurboom showed scant regard for the rules, causing upset and distress to people unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of one its 100million calls.

“The unprecedented scale of its campaign and Keurboom’s failure to co-operate with our investigation has resulted in the largest fine issued by the Information Commissioner for nuisance calls.”

“These calls have now stopped – as has Keurboom – but our work has not. We’ll continue to track down companies that blight people’s lives with nuisance calls, texts and emails.”

During the investigation, the ICO issued seven information notices ordering the company, which is registered in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, to provide information to the regulator. When it failed to comply, Keurboom Communications Ltd and its director, Gregory Rudd, were prosecuted and fined at Luton Magistrates’ Court in April 2016. (see notes to editors below)

Following the ICO’s investigation, Keurboom Communications has been placed in voluntary liquidation. The ICO is committed to recovering the fine by working with the liquidator and insolvency practitioners.

Sam Madden, director at Wiraya, creator of real time customer dialogue technology, said: “As the final deadline for people seeking compensation over miss-sold PPI encroaches, it’s to be expected that there will be one final ‘PPI plague’. Not least as a result of the £42m advertising campaign by the Financial Conduct Authority to raise awareness.

While most will be understandably keen to wait out the end of PPI, businesses need to address the issue head on and most importantly make a clear distinction between PPI and using voice as a valuable communication channel. Why? Because like it or not, voice is a highly valuable form of communication.”

In a recent study, Wiraya discovered that 86% of customers who left their insurance, energy, mobile or banking provider said they would have been more content with the service if had they been contacted in the way that they preferred, in the right moment (20%).

“Not only does voice capture our attention, but voice can be a far quicker and more effective business channel than ongoing email communication,” Madden explained.

“Building loyalty requires a value exchange between the brand and the consumer, and this starts with a dialogue with each individual customer, whether it be email, instant messages or a voice call. We need to restore consumer faith in voice calls and remove the stigma. Personal, timely and relevant communication will provide that value to the receiver, rather than inconvenience.”

The ICO’s powers will be further strengthened when the government introduces a new law allowing it to fine the company directors behind nuisance call firms. Making directors responsible will stop them avoiding fines by putting their company into liquidation, it said.

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