Provident Personal Credit fined for sending 1m spam texts

A West Yorkshire credit company has been fined £80,000 by a government watchdog after bombarding consumers with nearly 1m nuisance texts in six months.

Bradford-based Provident Personal Credit Ltd employed third-party companies to send 999,057 unsolicited text messages to promote personal loans for its brand Satsuma Loans.

An investigation was launched by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after it received 285 complaints to a spam-reporting service between April and October in 2015.

The watchdog found that one of Provident’s affiliates or third party agents had sent 868,393 unsolicited texts, while another was responsible for 130,664. It said it was likely that the number of texts sent was higher than the 1m figure “as it is likely that other affiliates sent out many more”.

The ICO imposed the fine as recipients had not agreed to receive the messages. The ICO’s head of enforcement, Steve Eckersley, said that the law was very clear. “You can’t send marketing texts to people who have not signed up to receive them,” he said. “Being bombarded with texts you didn’t ask for and don’t want is an intrusion into people’s privacy, an irritation and, in the worst cases, can be upsetting. Companies have no excuse whatsoever for sending nuisance texts, whether they do it themselves or employ someone else to do it for them.”

The Guardian contacted the company for a response. Messages on its website suggest that it is currently under strain, apologising to customers: “We are currently dealing with a high number of enquiries, and therefore a response may take longer than usual.”

The ICO has the power to impose a financial penalty of up to £500,000 for breaches of data protection law.

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