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ICO takes action over ‘sugging’

The Information Commissioner’s Office has taken action over a firm that passes off  nuisance calls as llegitmate market research, known as ‘Sugging’. 

Passing off nuisance calls as legitimate market research “will not wash”, the ICO’s head of enforcement said last week.

Steve Eckersley’s warning came as the ICO issued a stop order against a company that falsely claimed it was phoning people as part of a lifestyle survey – a practice known as “sugging”.√جª¬ø

Bolton-based Change and Save Ltd asked people when they had made or last updated their will. It maintained it was allowed to call people who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service because its survey was not subject to direct marketing rules.√جª¬ø

But an ICO investigation, sparked by 254 complaints, found that the calls went on to promote will-writing, funeral and legal services. This was direct marketing so Change and Save Ltd did break the rules when it phoned people registered with the TPS [Telephone Preference Service].

Mr Eckersley said ‘ “Firms trying to avoid direct marketing rules will be quickly found out – people spot a nuisance call when they get one. We know this because people complain to us. Trying to disguise a nuisance call as a survey or market research simply will not wash.”√جª¬ø

√جª¬øThe TPS is a free service which allows consumers to ‘Opt out’ of receiving unsolicited calls or marketing calls. The Claims Management Regulation Unit is currently bringing a number of cases against firms who are breaching the Conduct of Authorised Persons Rules 2014. The ICO also regulate a number of firms who act in this market.

The ICO have also recently reported that a house in Manchester was raided as part of an investigation into illegal trading of personal data. This is clearly an area of business that is coming under the spotlight of the regulators, as consumers complaints about nusiance PPI and other phone calls gain traction.

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