ICO fines loan firms behind spam texts

30th November 2016

Two companies responsible for millions of spam texts offering easy access to loans have been fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Separate ICO investigations into Dorset-based Silver City Tech Ltd and Oracle Insurance Brokers Ltd, in London, found the firms had broken the law because they did not have the consent of the people the text messages were sent to.

Both companies told ICO investigators it was a third party company which had sent the texts on their behalf, a practice known as affiliate marketing. Since Silver City Tech and Oracle Insurance Brokers instigated the messages, it was their responsibility under law to check the people being sent them had specifically consented to receiving marketing texts.

Andy Curry, ICO enforcement group manager, said “Affiliate firms are like postmen, delivering the message. It’s the people behind the message whose job it is to make sure it complies with the law. They must make rigorous checks to ensure the rules have been followed.”

Silver City Tech, fined £100,000 by the ICO, was found to be behind over three million texts in around five months. An example of the type of message sent is: “Maxine, we have received your details and could arrange £500 over six months. Click for cash. 1270% rep APR, 292% int. Stop2 opt out.”

Oracle Insurance Brokers was found to be responsible for around 136,000 texts and has been fined £30,000. The ICO’s investigations were triggered by complaints from the public about nuisance marketing.

Curry said “Hundreds of people have complained to us about spam texts relating to payday loans this year, showing it is a real problem for the public. These reports help inform our investigations so we can take action against the wrongdoers.”

The Government has recently announced plans to introduce fines of up to £500,000 for company directors heading up nuisance marketing firms. The new law is expected to come into force next spring.