ICO fines Provident over “nuisance texts”

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined lender Provident Personal Credit £80,000 for sending nearly a million nuisance texts.

ICO fines Provident over “nuisance texts”

The ICO said the Bradford-based firm, part of the Provident Financial Group, employed third-party affiliate companies to send 999,057 unsolicited text messages on its behalf, during a six-month period, to promote personal loans for its brand Satsuma Loans.

The data protection regulator said this was “against the law” as the recipients had not consented to receive such messages from Provident.

An ICO investigation was sparked following 285 complaints to the spam reporting service between April 6 and October 13 2015.

The ICO found that one of Provident’s affiliates, Money Gap Group, had sent 868,393 unsolicited texts while another, Sandhurst Associates, sent 130,664 during the same period. It is believed that the full scale of the contravention was significantly higher as it is likely that other affiliates sent out many more.

ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said: “The law is clear. You can’t send marketing texts to people who have not signed up to receive them.

“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 full penalty notice against PPC states that the company contracted third party affiliates and some of those affiliates sub-contracted with others to send the texts.

Under the agreement PPC pays a fee for each individual who subsequently enters into a credit loan agreement with PPC, after clicking on the web link in the text message.

A spokesman for Provident said: “PPC is sorry for the irritation this has caused to the individuals concerned.

“Although the ICO found that the contravention was not deliberate, PPC takes this contravention extremely seriously. It has reviewed its marketing processes and put in place procedures designed to prevent such conduct happening again.”