Firm that sent 17,000 spam texts about hand gel to profit from Covid is fined £60,000
- Digital Growth Experts Ltd sent 17,000 texts between February 29 and April 30
- It claimed its hand sanitisers were ‘effective against coronavirus’ at the time
- The ICO fined the company and said it acted with a blatant ‘disregard for the law’
A firm that sent 17,000 spam texts about hand gel to profit from the coronavirus pandemic has been fined £60,000 by a watchdog.
The texts were sent to the phones of people who had not consented to receive them and claimed the hand sanitising product was ‘effective against coronavirus’.
They were sent by Digital Growth Experts Ltd between February 29 and April 30 during the height of the outbreak.
DGEL was fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) which said the company acted with a blatant ‘disregard for the law’.
Digital Growth Experts Ltd has been fined £60,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office for sending 17,000 spam texts about hand gel to profit from the coronavirus pandemic. The company still sells Zoono hand sanitisers on Amazon at £29.95 for three 150ml bottles but it no longer advertises them as effective against Covid-19
The ICO said it will take out similar action on any company who acts in the same way during the pandemic.
DGEL continues to sell Zoono hand sanitisers on Amazon at £29.95 for three 150ml bottles but it no longer advertises them as effective against Covid-19.
Head of investigations at the ICO Andy Curry said: ‘DGEL played upon people’s concerns at a time of great public uncertainty, acting with a blatant disregard for the law, and all in order to feather its own pockets.
‘We will prioritise action on organisations carrying out similar activity.
The texts were sent to the phones of people who had not consented to receive them and claimed the hand sanitising product was ‘effective against coronavirus’
‘Direct marketing laws are clear and it is the responsibility of businesses to ensure they comply.
‘Ignorance of it or attempting to rely on vague and misleading evidence in support of a marketing campaign simply does not wash.
‘The sending of nuisance marketing texts are a significant concern to the public, and the ICO will continue to take action where our advice is not followed and where we find serious, systemic or negligent behaviour that puts people’s information rights at risk.’
DGEL has a registered office in central London and a correspondence address for the director of the firm, Andrew Hughes, in Westbury On Trym, Bristol, according to information held by Companies House.
The Zoono hand sanitiser company’s contact address is at the same London office on Constance Street.
The ICO said the firm failed to provide sufficient evidence that it had the consent from phone owners it is required to have under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR), which govern marketing calls, texts and emails.
DGEL came to authorities’ attention after people forwarded the texts to 7726, the spam reporting service.
Members of the public can report nuisance texts, calls or emails, to the ICO, on 0303 123 1113.