The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued 17 fines worth over £42m last year, according to an annual report from the regulator.
Recipients of the largest fines included DSG Retail, Cathay Pacific and Pension House Exchange. British Airways was also fined £20m in October last year.
The industry hit with the biggest fines was marketing with nine fines in total issued, followed by three fines issued to firms in the transport and leisure sector.
In terms of activity in financial services and credit, the ICO last year fined OSL Financial Consultancy, a mortgage intermediary business, £50,000 for illegally sending 174,342 nuisance marketing texts.
The Barnetby-based mortgage and loans broker, trading as MortgageKey, came to the attention of the ICO as part of its probe into companies seeking to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic with nuisance marketing. Between March and June 2020, the ICO identified a number of complaints about OSL.
The ICO’s Financial Recovery Unit also started proceedings in December 2020 to retrieve £250,000 from defunct company Pownall Marketing Limited (PML). The company was fined for making over 350,000 nuisance calls.
Between 1 January 2019 and 28 May 2019, PML made 365,369 unsolicited calls to promote claims management services for insurance and credit complaints.
Separately, the ICO made eight director disqualifications in 2020. After one company, (name company here), that promoted PPI compensation claims was fined £300,000 for making nearly 10 million nuisance calls, its directors were all disqualified for six years each.
Where it identifies organisations that can pay but won’t pay, the ICO pursues formal recovery action which can result in insolvency.
The ICO said that where directors seek to avoid payment via insolvency, it actively exercise its rights as a creditor, including nominating insolvency practitioners whose investigations can result in personal claims against directors.
The data protection regulator also works closely with other enforcement agencies to disrupt and obstruct “seriously non-compliant directors” who for example, may persist in continuing to make nuisance calls or send unsolicited spam despite our fine. This can result in directors being disqualified and further civil action or criminal prosecutions.
Charlie Smith, consultant solution engineer at the security solutions provider, Barracuda Networks, said: “In today’s digital working environment, data security, recovery and protection is of vital importance. Unfortunately, it has become apparent that many business owners, workers and consumers are not aware of the need for backup and recovery services for their email service providers.”