Companies fined for targeting elderly with ‘threatening’ calls

Fraud victim finds it hard to trust anyone after falling for scam

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In March, five companies were fined by the ICO for making thousands of marketing calls to “older, vulnerable people” and the watchdog announced that other companies remained under investigation. It has now been revealed that another five companies have been fined for pulling the same stunt on elderly people.

The latest five firms whose actions have been labelled “shameful” have been fined a total of £435,000 for targeting the over 60s with almost half a million illegal marketing calls.

The victims of the phone calls were found by the companies which were “deliberately targeting” individuals on the Telephone Preference Service register.

The TPS is a list of people who have signed up to declare they do not want to get marketing calls to sell insurance for washing machines, kitchen appliances or boiler cover.

Those on the TPS cannot legally be contacted by a live marketing caller unless they have told the specific firm they do not mind receiving calls from them.

The IOC concluded that pressure tactics were employed by the companies to target the over-60 homeowners with a landline in an attempt to get payment details.

Allapplianceservices UK Ltd, Boiler Cover Breakdown Limited, Boiler Breakdown Limited, Repair Plans UK Limited, and Utility Guard Limited were investigated and fined up to £140,000.

The IOC’s investigation found that Allapplianceservices UK Ltd in Brighton insisted that card details were given during intense phone calls with the homeowners.

One person said they handed over their payment details because they “just wanted AKUL to go away”.

Meanwhile, Surrey-based firm Boiler Breakdown Limited contacted people on the TPS list 348,724 time between January 1 and August 31, 2020.

Repair Plans UK Limited purchased data asking for homeowners over 60 with a landline and Utility Guard Limited took money from a person with dementia.

IOC head of investigations Andy Curry said: “The pressure tactics, and sometimes false or misleading statements these companies used were completely unacceptable.

“To be made to feel as though you have to hand over your bank details simply to get someone off the phone is nothing short of shameful, and that is why we have taken action against these companies.”

Over £2million in penalties has been issued by the IOC against companies responsible for such calls, texts, and emails this year.

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The investigations in March saw one woman who was targeted say: “It has made me really ill, they keep calling and have taken money from me, I am an elderly woman.”

Another wrote that their mother-in-law received a call designed “to persuade an elderly vulnerable person with old age memory loss to take out unneeded insurance on equipment” and another described the call as “threatening and coercive”.

Of those investigations, John Edwards the UK Information Commissioner said: “These are unlawful predatory marketing calls that were targeted at some of the most vulnerable members of our society and driven purely by financial gain.”

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