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ICO fines text spammers £440,000

29 Nov 2012 10:49 GMT Back
ICO fines text spammers £440,000
Person texting on mobile phone

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The owners of Tetrus Telecoms, a marketing firm that plagued the public with millions of unlawful spam texts, have been fined £440,000. 

This is the first time the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has used its power to issue a monetary penalty for a serious breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) since these powers were approved in January 2012. 

It follows an 18-month investigation into the activities of Tetrus Telecoms, which is jointly owned by Christopher Neibel and Gary McNeish. The ICO became aware of Tetrus Telecoms after receiving intelligence in May 2011 that it was sending huge volumes of unsolicited text messages from offices in Stockport and Birmingham without the consent of the recipient and without identifying the sender - both of which are legal requirements under the PECR. 

Examples of the text messages sent out by Tetrus Telecoms include: 

CLAIM TODAY you may be entitled to £3500 for the accident you had. To claim free, reply CLAIM to this message. To opt out text STOP. Thank you

URGENT! If you took out a Bank Loan prior to 2007 then you are almost certainly entitled to £2300 in compensation. To claim reply 'YES'

The replies were then used to generate leads that were sold to other companies at a considerable profit. 

The ICO urges any companies that have bought data from Tetrus Telecoms, Niebel or McNeish in the past to check that the proper customer consents have been obtained and that they are acting within the law. 

The DMA’s chief of operations, Mike Lordan said: “We’re pleased that the ICO has finally taken punitive action against two SMS spammers. We’ve long been awaiting decisive action against those operating outside of the law, so this is an important first step.

"Text spam causes inconvenience and distress to millions of consumers and harms the legitimate mobile marketing industry, which is worth £135m a year to the UK economy. We hope that the ICO takes similar enforcement action against other SMS spammers, as well as taking punitive action against those found to be breaking TPS cold calling regulations.”

Posted by

Smarayda Christoforou

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