A Midland firm has been fined £70,000 after making almost 40,000 “frightening” nuisance calls in just 24 hours.
Nearly 10,000 of the illegal calls made by Dudley-based Direct Security Marketing Ltd were dialled between 1am and 6am.
Many of those cold-called by the burglar alarm company were elderly – and one was an 84-year-old burglary victim who injured herself trying to get to the phone. The Information Commissioner’s Office watchdog imposed the fine.
ICO group enforcement manager Andy Curry said: “Elderly people were among those who were left distressed after being woken up in the night by the automated calls.
“It’s natural when the phone rings in the early hours to fear it’s bad news and perhaps a relative is seriously ill. That’s what people who received these calls told us they thought. Automated calls at any time can leave people feeling unsettled. But to receive a call trying to sell you a burglar alarm in the middle of the night must have been very frightening.”
The automated calls, made from a withheld number, were received early on August 24 last year.
The ICO began an investigation into Direct Security Marketing Ltd after receiving complaints from some of those who had been called.
One of those called in the middle of the night was an 84-year-old woman who had been burgled twice in the last 18 months.
The pensioner tripped and twisted her knee as she fell trying to reach the phone thinking there was a family emergency.
Mr Curry added: “Legally, automated marketing calls can only be made if people have specifically consented to receive this type of call.
“This company admitted to us that it did not have consent from the individuals they called.”
The firm was prosecuted for not being notified with the ICO.
The company pleaded guilty to the offence at Dudley Magistrates’ Court last November and was fined £650, ordered to pay costs of £492.78 and £65 victim surcharge.
The company’s director, Antonio Pardo, was also prosecuted over the offence.
He pleaded guilty and was fined £534, ordered to pay £489.08 costs and £53 victim surcharge.