"Businesses making direct marketing calls are responsible for understanding their responsibilities under the legislation, ignorance is no excuse."
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Swansea firm CPS Advisory £130,000 for making more than 100,000 unauthorised direct marketing calls to people about their pensions.
A change to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation (PECR) was introduced in 2019, limiting who can call people about their pensions in a bid to stop pension fraud.
Under the new law, companies can only make live calls to people about their occupational or personal pensions if the caller is authorised by the FCA, or is the trustee or manager of an occupational or personal pension scheme.
The recipient must also have consented to calls or have an existing relationship with the caller.
Under the PECR, businesses and their officers can face a fine of up to £500,000 from the ICO.
During its investigation, the ICO found that between 11 January 2019 and 30 April 2019, CPS Advisory had made 106,987 calls to people without lawful authority.
The ICO found that the company was not a trustee or manager of a pensions scheme, was not authorised by the FCA and the evidence that it provided did not satisfy the ICO that valid consent had been obtained.
The Information Commissioner decided that this represented “a significant intrusion into the privacy of the recipients of such calls”.
Andy Curry, head of investigations at the ICO, said: “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.”
The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, added: “Pensions cold calls are the most common method used to initiate pension scams, which can rob people of their hard-earned savings and ruin lives. That’s why we banned them. Today’s fine should act as a warning to others that pensions cold calling is unacceptable, and those found flouting the rules will be held to account.”