Pension scheme cold caller fined £130,000 by UK data watchdog

Britain’s data watchdog says it has snared Swansea-based business CPS Advisory for making more than 100,000 “unauthorised direct marketing calls” to people about their pensions, and subsequently fined the company £130,000.

Under a change to the Private and Electronics Communications Regulation (PECR) in 2019, a firm can only make live calls to folks about work or a personal pension scheme if they are authorised to do so by the Financial Conduct Authority, or it is the trustee or manager of such a pension.

In either case, consent of the recipient must be given or a prior relationship with the caller must exist. Andy Curry, head of investigations at the data regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), said in a statement:

“Unwanted pension calls can cause real distress and even significant financial hardship to often vulnerable people, who can end up losing their hard-earned pension pot to scammers.

“This company clearly flouted the law when they should have known better. Businesses making direct marketing calls are responsible for understanding their responsibilities under the legislation, ignorance is no excuse,” he added.

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A probe by the ICO [PDF] found CPS Advisory made 106,987 calls to people without the right to do so between 11 January 2019 and 30 April in the same year. CPS Advisory was neither a trustee nor a manager of a pensions scheme and was not authorised by the FCA.

The evidence CPS Advisory put forward to defend itself did not convince the ICO that valid consent has been granted, and so it deemed the call as a “significant intrusion into the privacy the recipients of such calls.”

The alteration to PECR – covering marketing calls, phone and texts – in January last year was intended to stop people falling fouls of scams that could lose them their retirement fund.

Businesses that flout those regulations can be fined up to £500,000 by the ICO.

CPS Advisory filed abbreviated accounts [PDF] for the year to March 2019 showing negative assets of £58,882. ®

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