The UK Information Commissioner’s Office announced Wednesday that it has fined We Buy Any Car, Saga and Sports Direct £495,000 for sending more than 354 million nuisance messages.

ICO Head of Investigations Andy Curry said, “getting a ping on your phone or constant unwanted messages on our laptop from a company you don’t want to hear from is frustrating and intrusive.” He added, “today’s fines show the ICO will tackle unsolicited marketing, irrespective of whether the messages have been orchestrated by a small business or organisation, or a leading household name.”

The ICO’s investigations revealed that We Buy Any Car sent emails to customers seeking online appraisal of their automobiles. Although the initial emails were legal, it sent 91 million emails and 3.6 million messages between April 2019 and April 2020 without consent. Consequently, the ICO fined We Buy Any Car £200,000. Further, the ICO fined Sports Direct £70,000 because it failed to show prior consent for sending 2.5 million emails between December 2019 and February 2020.

Moreover, while Saga Services sent more than 128 million unsolicited direct marketing messages during November 2018 and May 2019, Saga Personal Finance sent more than 28 million unauthorised marketing messages during the same period. Both the companies pleaded indirect consent, but the ICO rejected their submission. As a result, the ICO levied a fine of £150,000 and £75,000 on Saga Services and Saga Personal Finance respectively.

Earlier this month, the ICO had fined another company £150,000 for making nuisance marketing calls. The ICO has imposed 17 penalties totalling over £1.7 million for violations of direct marketing regulations this year till date.

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