Privacy Advisor

UK—Payday Loans Company Fined 175,000 GBPs Over Spam Texts

January 28, 2014

By Brian Davidson, CIPP/E 

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has served First Financial with a 175,000 GBP penalty after an investigation discovered that the company was responsible for selling millions of unlawful “spam” texts.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which govern electronic marketing activities in the UK, require organisations to have individuals’ consent before sending marketing messages via SMS. The penalty comes after 4,031 complaints were made against messages sent from numbers that the ICO found to belong to First Financial. The messages also included some claiming to be from the recipient’s friends, which prompted separate regulatory action from the Advertising Standards Authority.

The spam texts were sent using unregistered SIM cards in order to avoid detection; however, it was found that the content of the message was similar on each occasion and referred recipients to a website belonging to “firstpaydayloanuk.co.uk,” which is a trading name used by First Financial.

The penalty comes after the company’s former sole director was prosecuted in 2013 after failing to notify First Financial’s processing of personal information with the ICO. Notification is a legal requirement under the Data Protection Act.

The Monetary Penalty Notice is available here.

Brian Davidson, CIPP/E, is a privacy and information law advisor at Field Fisher Waterhouse, LLP.