Fine threatened over mobile spam deluge

Lock symbol on keyboard
Image caption The fines will be some of the first monetary penalties handed out by the ICO

Fines of more than £250,000 look set to be handed out to two people who sent millions of spam text messages.

The pair topped a list of mobile spam senders compiled by the Information Commissioner (ICO) with the help of the public.

The ICO got more than 30,000 responses to its plea for help identifying the most incorrigible spammers.

If the spammers cannot prove they had permission to send millions of texts they must pay the fines.

The ICO issued its appeal in March and asked the public to report when they received junk text messages or cold calls on their phone.

The information received helped the ICO identify those companies abusing UK regulations on commercial contact.

Cash call

"All of this work has led us to where we are today with the ICO poised to issue our first monetary penalty notices," said Simon Entwistle, director of operations at the ICO, in a blog entry about the fines.

"This is an important step that shows those who blatantly break the law will be in line for a sizeable six-figure penalty from the ICO," he said.

While companies can contact consumers about goods and services, he said, they cannot send unsolicited texts or use automated calls if they do not have permission to get in touch.

Some of the calls and texts were about compensation for accidents that a person had not suffered or to lodge a claim for being mis-sold PPI that they were not entitled to make.

"The public have told us that they are increasingly concerned about illegal marketing texts and calls," said Mr Entwistle.

The ICO has written to the two people who topped the complaints list and told them they have 28 days to demonstrate that they did have permission to send the junk texts or make the automated calls.

The fines will have to be paid if they fail to convince the ICO that they had permission.

The ICO has not named the alleged spammers but said more details would be released in 28 days' time.

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