Payday lender fined £175k for sending millions of spam texts

A payday lender has been fined £175,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office for sending millions of unlawful spam texts.

First Financial (UK) Ltd fell foul of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, which govern electronic marketing and require organisations to have an individual’s consent before sending marketing messages by text.

The penalty comes after 4,031 complaints were made against messages sent from numbers which belonged to First Financial.

The messages included some claiming to be from the recipient’s friends, reading: “Hi Mate hows u? I’m still out in town, just got £850 in my account from these guys www.firstpaydayloanuk.co.uk”.

ICO director of operations Simon Entwistle says: “We will continue to target these companies that continue to blight the daily lives of people across the UK. We are also currently speaking with the government to get the legal bar lowered, allowing us to take action at a much earlier stage.”

The texts were sent using unregistered SIM cards, referring recipients to firstpaydayloanuk.co.uk, a trading name used by First Financial.

The penalty comes after the company’s former sole director, Hamed Shabani, was prosecuted on 8 October after he failed to notify the ICO that the business was processing personal information, a legal requirement.

Shabani, who claimed to have nothing to do with the lender, was fined £1,180.

Which? Executive director Richard Lloyd says: “Consumers need the regulators to get tough to stop companies persistently bombarding us with unwanted calls and texts so the ICO fine is another welcome step to keep the pressure on firms who break the rules.

“The Government must make it easier for regulators to take enforcement action and we look forward to seeing their upcoming action plan for tackling nuisance calls and texts.”

First Financial (UK) Ltd is not to be confused with mortgages and protection advice firm First Financial Intermediaries, nor its holding company First Financial Consultants.