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Home Improvement Firm Fined £200k for Nuisance Calls

A Welsh home improvement firm has been fined £200,000 by the UK’s privacy watchdog after making more than half a million nuisance phone calls.

Home2Sense Ltd of Lampeter made 675,478 nuisance calls between June 2020 and March 2021 to offer individuals insulation services, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

However, these people were registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), meaning they had explicitly opted out of receiving unsolicited marketing calls.

According to the UK’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), it is illegal to contact anyone registered with the TPS for more than 28 days unless that person has explicitly notified the company that they do not object to receiving such calls.

Among the scores of complaints made to the ICO about Home2Sense’s business practices, one distressed victim said a call center marketer asked to speak to their late mother, who had passed away a decade earlier.

On other calls, the operative posed as a local surveyor and claimed the recipient might be in line for a free grant to replace their loft insulation.

“This is my recently deceased mother’s house that I have just inherited in the past few months. It was extremely upsetting to have someone deliberately cold-call me,” they complained.

The company also illegally used several aliases when presenting themselves to the public, including “Cozy Loft,” “Warmer Homes” and “Comfier Homes.”

Head of ICO regions, Ken Macdonald, argued that the firm’s attempt to blame its staff for failing to screen individuals on the TPS list shows a complete disregard for victims’ privacy.

“Some of the complainants described the calls received as ‘aggressive,’ and the company caused two complainants to feel distressed and upset when they asked to speak to a relative that had passed away,” he added.

“Business owners operating in this field have a duty to have robust procedures and training in place so the law is followed. Attempts to rely on ignorance of the law, or trying to pass the buck onto members of staff or external suppliers, will not be tolerated.”

However, it remains to be seen if Home2Sense ends up paying the full £200,000. Just a quarter (26%) of the monetary value of fines issued by the ICO from January 2020 to September 2021 have been paid, according to a November 2021 report. That’s down from 32% during the previous  report period (January 2019-August 2020).

Fines for nuisance calls were among the most likely to remain unpaid, with nearly 80% yet to be collected.

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