The UK Watchdog have taken action and fined a company that specialises in asking the public to take part in ‘surveys’ in which the answers are then used to target respondents with marketing calls. Verso Group, the company carrying out these surveys, were found to not to have been 100% open about what it was doing. The Hertfordshire based company came to regulators attention after it was involved in one campaign which resulted in 46 million ‘’nuisance calls’ about payment protection insurance (PPI).
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it was the first such penalty following a wider investigation into the so-called data broking industry. It is reported that Verso Group have been ordered to pay a fine in the region of £80,000. Verso have been in business since 2011 and call itself the ‘largest lead-generation business in the UK by some distance’. According to its website, the company uses call centres in the Philippines, India and North America to carry out surveys with the public, with the aim of helping customers cut down their utility bills.
With citizens’ rights set to strengthen next year over their personal information, it puts companies like Verso Group in a difficult situation as this will allow people to force a company to delete any personal information about them, meaning Verso Group will slowly have less people to target. This law also allows the ICO to raise the cap on the size of penalties that they can demand from companies breaching these rules and regulations.