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Bedroom design outfit slapped with £160k fine for 1.6 million spam calls

Richard Scratcher

1.6 million nuisance calls?!

I don't know how they sleep at night.

PATSYQB

Re: 1.6 million nuisance calls?!

they probably don't.... 1.6 Million calls in 244 days equals one call every 13 seconds night and day

disgustedoftunbridgewells
Silver badge
FAIL

" the ICO found that for one group of numbers, 99 per cent of all calls made were to TPS-registered numbers."

Surely a minion has accidentally uploaded the wrong spreadsheet.

Tom 35
Silver badge

Minion has called all the numbers on the right spreadsheet already.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Not likely

I was at the TPS once (they were a client) in the early 2000's and while I was there one of the ladies took a call from someone from working at a sales call centre who said her company were actively using the TPS as a contacts sheet as it was cheaper than buying data from a list broking company.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Not likely

"using the TPS as a contacts sheet"

I worked at a company that brought a dodgy data dump around mid-2000s, or more accurately a CSV with name, number, address covering about 2 million business locations which were used to setup website.

The problem was, most of the data was fake, and the phone numbers were residential... the sole purpose was to abuse search engine rankings.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Not likely

Us too.

Boss- I've bought 2 Million emails and phone numbers

Staff- Not enough of us to even make a dent in these, have you checked TPS?

Boss- No spam them all anyway.

Staff- All of these emails are firstname.lastname@company.com I find that suspicious

Boss- Spam them all anyway.

Staff- FFS 1.9M bouncebacks

ma1010
Silver badge
Flame

Re: Not likely

They do that in the US all the time, use the "Do Not Call" list as a to-call list. Unfortunately, there are no real penalties for doing that here unless you do it on a really massive basis, in which case there is a tiny chance of getting fined - about the same chance one normally has of getting hit by a meteorite while crossing the street.

The plethora of "marketing" calls flooding the phone system has pretty much made phones useless for lots of people - I never answer my landline phone because it's always crap.

There isn't anything the government can really do until they redesign the phone system to where spoofing numbers isn't child's play since we get lots of crap calls from outside the law's jurisdiction and have no way to screen them since they spoof local numbers.

Harry Stottle

2nd Offence should mean Jail Time...

1st time can be accident or ignorance

2nd time, post penalty, that's policy...

Ramis101

"Making marketing calls to people who are registered with the TPS is completely unacceptable, and we will take robust enforcement action against firms that are contacting people without their consent," said ICO enforcement manager Andy Curry.

Unless they call internationally and or spoof the number, or hang up, or refuse to identify themselves etc etc..... which most of em do.

John Brown (no body)
Silver badge

"Unless they call internationally and or spoof the number, or hang up, or refuse to identify themselves etc etc..... which most of em do."

Just had a scam call today. Supposedly from HMRC who have issued an arrest warrent in my name for tax evasion, press 1 etc or call some 0161....number. The first giveaway was the American accented computer generated voice. The other was that not only am I not in the sort of tax bracket where I'd be arrested by appointment, but just happen to have had dealings with HMRC recently who have increased my tax code and are sending me a checque!

Nicholas Nada
WTF?

We'll always have Connie's Bathrooms

A newish but notable feature of the east-Glasgow landscape (or 'blight on' depending on point of view), Connie's approach to advertising is to get an old taxi or van, bolt a bathtub to the top of it, stick a mannequin in the bath, and park it somewhere. Not sure I'd ever hire them, but they're certainly the first name to come to mind when thinking of bathroom fitters.

Danny 14
Silver badge

Re: We'll always have Connie's Bathrooms

try that our neck of the woods and the bath would be filled with variius forms of waste and the mannequin sodomised brutally. Unfortunately most people are also UKIP voters too.

John Brown (no body)
Silver badge

Re: We'll always have Connie's Bathrooms

"Unfortunately most people are also UKIP voters too."

Your post was funny, so I can only assume there are some UKIP voters here today, possibly with someone to read the long words for them :-)

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Just the cost of doing business

"The firm was fined £90,000 in 2013 for making thousands of nuisance calls, and the ICO noted that – despite paying up – this latest breach showed "a clear lack of remedial measures" had been taken."

Clearly these "Bespoke" nuisance callers just consider these fines just the cost of doing business just like the tiny fines thrown at corrupt bankers that continue to violate all manner of laws.

As another commentard said, second time should be a crime against the courts policy and should be a jailable offense.

(I also feel there should be a severe penalty for anyone using the word "Bespoke")

AMBxx
Silver badge

Re: Just the cost of doing business

10p per call. It used to cost that much just to make a call!

Lee D
Silver badge

Re: Just the cost of doing business

My dad works for a brewery. They're required to deliver beer all over London, usually by parking on double-yellows, red-routes, etc. in all the horrible-to-access backstreets and pedestrianised bits, etc.

The traffic wardens literally just hand the ticket to the driver EVERY DAY, they're so used to it. To the brewery, they just add £100 or whatever onto the cost of the THOUSANDS of pounds of beer that place buys each time. The bar owners don't even question it, it's literally "Yeah, sure, everyone does" and the cost of doing business in central London.

Totally destroys the entire point of there being any rule, enforcement or penalty whatsoever, and I bet the neighbours and traffic are seething at them because of it.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: The traffic wardens literally just hand the ticket to the driver EVERY DAY,

If only the council would (or could) gradually increase the amount of the fine day by day, we'd find out where the relevant parking-fine threshold was :-)

Danny 14
Silver badge

Re: The traffic wardens literally just hand the ticket to the driver EVERY DAY,

or just use common fucking sense. How else are you supposed to deliver beer barrels? Deliveroo? Morons.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: The traffic wardens literally just hand the ticket to the driver EVERY DAY,

Once worked in parking enforcement in RB Kingston upon Thames - Encountered the same issue. The driver I regularly spoke with had told his office he could avoid a PCN if they would only allow him to do his drops in a different order - avoiding our peak time loading restriction, but they refused the common sense move.

Before you get on the moron stuff just remember that some roads need to be clear in the rush hour so trhat people can.... oh I dont know... maybe get to work... which kind trumps the need to deliver barrels in the busiest time of the day, remember not everyone commutes by train, and certainly in the case of Kingston it didnt take much to bring the whole place to a stop.

sanmigueelbeer
Bronze badge
Pint

Re: The traffic wardens literally just hand the ticket to the driver EVERY DAY,

How else are you supposed to deliver beer barrels? Deliveroo? Morons.

During WW II, the British Army deployed PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean) to pump fuel to Normandy.

I'm just saying ...

Off to get me coat, thanks.

Lee D
Silver badge

Re: The traffic wardens literally just hand the ticket to the driver EVERY DAY,

"or just use common fucking sense. How else are you supposed to deliver beer barrels?"

With an appropriate licence to park in an appropriate and safe location. Generally speaking, double-yellows and double-red lines indicate a place where's NOT safe and appropriate to stop and deliver goods of any kind, let alone barrels weighing more than I do which need to be trollied down the street and thrown into a big hole in the ground.

Gosh, if only someone had considered that when they painted those lines and made lines that you COULD park on to deliver, but not just stop on, to ease the flow of traffic while allowing essential business services to proceed.

Moron.

John Brown (no body)
Silver badge

Re: The traffic wardens literally just hand the ticket to the driver EVERY DAY,

"How else are you supposed to deliver beer barrels?"

Use loading bays or time restricted parking restrictions and make deliveries outside of the parking fine times.

eg deliver at chucking out time or 5am or some other time when the lorry isn't going to be blocking a road.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

What a surprise - TPS is useless.

Only sure fire way is to dump the landline. (Or, if you're with Virgin where it costs you money, just don't plug any phones in.)

Mysteriously, I've not had any junk calls for years.

For sites that mandate a landline, I give them my VOIP number, which goes straight to voicemail.

mark l 2
Silver badge

Re: What a surprise - TPS is useless.

Unfortunately I don't think dumping the landline will fix the problem. I get more cold calls to the mobile than I do to the landline.

These companies will only learn when the fine out weighs the profit they make from breaking the rules.

It reminds me of a bar i used to frequent in my college days. Most of the drinkers were 16 or 17 years old and the bar would get fined for underage drinkers quite frequently. But one of the owners told me that at the time the maximum fine was £1000 and they could make that back in just one evening. So it was worth letting under 18s just pay the fines when they got rumbled.

When they eventually clamped down harder on underage drinking a few years later and the bar owners has to enforce ID or get the license taken away, the place was empty and closed down shortly afterwards.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: What a surprise - TPS is useless.

Only sure fire way is to dump the landline.

Nope. Why do you think the likes of Google, LinkedIn, Facebook et al are so keen to give you "security measures" that always just happen to require your mobile number?

First of all, device ID and phone number are perfectly stable tracking facilities as few change their number and/or mobile that often, secondly it's a nice captive audience as the ability to block SMS is only a recent invention - and if you're in the US, you still have to contend with an emergency broadcast system that apparently now may be abused by Trump.

Be VERY wary giving out your mobile number. In 99% of the cases where it was suggested to me, I found it wasn't really promoting my security as much as an attempt to squeeze ever more personal information from me, so I aborted it every time.

That said, if you really need social media to have a social life, maybe you should. In that case, you're worth it.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: What a surprise - TPS is useless.

Be VERY wary giving out your mobile number.

Not that wary. I just have an old phone with a 3 PAYG SIM in it stuck away in a drawer. (FYI 3 credit rolls over month after month). Just turn it on and use it once a quarter or thereabouts, otherwise it's off

That way I am certain I'll be giving out a number that's highly unlikely to be superceded and that I have little concern about who knows.

Handy standby too

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Mobile spam

Personally I have never had any mobile spam at all, wrong numbers from fat fingered people yes but no strangers lingering on the call and trying to sell/profile me at all.

It may be coincidence or it is possible that you guys have given your data out to someone who then sold it on, or already had the data because they are involved with providing the service.

Given that blind telemarketters are people who are happy getting paid to waste your time and whilst there is no real punishement if they get caught then expect spam to continue.

That I am not suffering suggests that it might be worth while for those sick of SPAM to change provider to GiffGaff on PAYG and not give your number out.

Every three months I lob a fiver on mine and since the people I want to call are also on GG I can call them when I like for free. Yes I pay full price for a telephone if I want to upgrade but at the same time it belongs to me so no hassle if it breaks (just back to the store), no credit company as no contract so no data passed to reference agencies who also make money selling your data.

As I say it could all be coincidence that I have no mobile spam or it might be related to you guys allowing people who trade in your information being involved, just a thought

Lee D
Silver badge

At least the fines are getting there... 10p to a £1 per call is actually in the "ouch" range now.

And now they can no longer escape by just declaring the company bankrupt, they really need to buck up their ideas.

Bigger question: If people have SPECIFICALLY said they don't want marketing calls, quite how many sales are they making from calling THOSE SAME PEOPLE? I know for myself that I opted out not because of any particular reason other than "I will never buy something from someone who just phones me up at random". As far as I'm concerned, I'm saving both of us time, effort and money by doing so.

To my eyes, the TPS is a list of "no-interest". I use it privately and as part of my job (no, a school does not need every man and his dog to phone up to check if they'd like to change telephony provider every two minutes). I think it should be unnecessary, especially not that explicit consent is required by law anyway, but I also think the exact people to blame are the exact people supposedly enforcing these laws.

Phone me unsolicited and - unless we have a business relationship, or I know you well personally - I will literally never buy anything from you. You could be my long-term supplier and put in a random sales call to me and if I haven't asked you to phone, I will just complain about it. If it's something you know I've been waiting for, something I was asking you about, something we've discussed previously, sure.

But, to be honest, even the "we spoke last year and I was just checking in" phone calls are annoying enough.

It's like there being a list of "people who don't want theatre tickets"... and then theatres spamming those people about theatre tickets. 1) Why would you have such a list, 2) Why would you think it's worth your time chasing those exact people? You keep a list of "people who might want theatre tickets", surely, if you have any interest in drumming up business? Not the opposite.

Ken Moorhouse
Silver badge

Re: Bigger question

I think Lee's post should be framed, tacked to the wall and recited to anyone cold-calling. It makes so much sense. But then again you need to address the brain inside the person making the call, and that isn't possible if they're on auto-pilot.

John Brown (no body)
Silver badge

Re: Bigger question

But then again you need to address the brain inside the person making the call, and that isn't possible if they're on auto-pilot."

Depends. If it's an actual sales employee looking for commission, then nothing you say will deter them. That's their life. But if it's a call centre drone who took a job for whatever reason (benefits sanctioned of they refuse or resign?), then they are just doing as they are told so they can take home their minimum wage and probably care even less (though probably won't bother trying the hard sell tactics)

fredblogggs

Not the real problem anyway

It's hard for me to imagine that these calls from legitimate businesses represent even the tiniest fraction of nuisance calls. Perhaps it's different in the UK, but in the US I haven't gotten a spam phone call from a legitimate business of any kind in at least a decade. It's been years since even a scam call featured an actual human on the other end. Robocalls from spoofed numbers, presumably overseas, trying to scam me (or an alternate-universe me who understands Mandarin, at any rate) average a dozen a week. But they are criminals anyway so they won't bother to check TPS/DNC/whatever lists because the penalty for the unwanted call is nothing compared with the penalty they'd get for the criminal enterprise itself, in the extremely unlikely event they ever get caught and/or extradited. This really seems like the sort of offence no one would commit, not only for the reasons @Lee D describes but also because the only people they can punish are the ones they can find, and the ones they can find are exactly the ones with an incentive not to do it.

phuzz
Silver badge

Re: Not the real problem anyway

I get one about every three or four months, and they sound like real people, not recorded.

I tend to just leave the phone connected without saying anything until they ring off, and it does seem to reduce the number of calls I get.

disgustedoftunbridgewells
Silver badge

Re: Not the real problem anyway

I used to say "oh, double glazing? That's interesting. Give me a moment to go somewhere quiet". Then press mute and put the phone on the table.

John Brown (no body)
Silver badge

Re: Not the real problem anyway

"Robocalls from spoofed numbers, presumably overseas, trying to scam me"

Oddly enough, here in the UK, those types of calls are almost invariably US based for me. I've "won" quite a few Caribbean cruises, I just have to book transport to the start point and insurance through the prize promotion company at their extortionate rate. And with VOIP call number mapping, they can even have UK phone number.

Jamie Jones
Silver badge

Re: Not the real problem anyway

"Well, Ok, I'll answer your questions, but it better not take too long, the traffic is quite nasty at the moment, and what with this rain..."

"Ok, well, the place I usually buy my groceries is...... SHHHHHHHHHHHHIT....."

[ plays prerecorded sound of car brakes screeching, then crash ]

[hangs up phone]

[puts phone back on the table whilst sitting on the sofa giggling like a kid]

RFC822

Number crunching

1,600,000 spam calls - but only 99 of the recipients reported it. So presumably the other 1,599,901 just put the phone down?

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Fine

Just like other fines, its a tax on approved criminal behavior.

The govs don't mind, so long as they get their cut.

Paul

Toothless ofcom, why wasn't it a GDPR violation?

If this was declared a gdpr violation, couldn't the ICO fine the perps a lot more money?

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