First Financial (UK) Limited

Breach details

What Breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
The sending of unsolicited marketing SMS.
How much 4,031 complaints.
When 01 February 2013 to 31 March 2013.
Why It appears that First Financial was set up in order to provide short-term loans, and was probably intended to be a transient company that could be closed before regulatory action was taken against them. During the period in question First Financial carried out a marketing campaign by sending text messages claiming the recipient was entitled to immediate cash claims through the First Financial website. The text messages were sent using unregistered SIM cards to avoid spam detectors. The individual who set up First Financial has since tried to dissolve the company, remove himself from the company register as director, and has refused to disclose the financial position of the company.

Regulatory action

Regulator ICO
Action Monetary Penalty of £175,000.
When 16 December 2013.

Why the regulator acted

Breach of act Breach of Regulation 22: sent unsolicited marketing SMS messages without asking for the consent of the individuals concerned.
Known or should have known The issue of unsolicited text messages has been widely publicized recently and so First Financial should have been well aware that they ran a high risk of contravening regulations by sending such a high volume of texts. The volume of texts indicates that there were no systems in place to ensure the consent of the recipients and by using unregistered SIM cards they were deliberately contravening PECR.
Likely to cause damage or distress The large numbers of individuals involved in this case ensured that the overall level of distress was substantial, particularly as only a very small percentage of recipients of texts such as these report them. Some individuals were concerned about the unsociable times they received these messages; others were troubled about where First Financial had obtained their details.