Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

A text too far by payday loan firm First Financial

Payday lender First Financial has been fined £175,000 by the Information Commissioner for sending millions of unsolicited text messages.

All fairly run of the mill until you look at the content of some of the messages sent, which seem to be sinister at best.

One popular message read: "Hi Mate hows u? I'm still out in town, just got £850 in my account from these guys www.firstpaydayloanuk.co.uk."

More than 4,000 complaints were made about such messages as they seemed to come from friends of the recipients. The Information Commissioner said the firm had attempted to cover its tracks by sending the messages via unregistered SIM cards.

However, the blatant citing of the company's internet address in text messages meant it didn't take a rocket scientist to work out who was behind the spam texts.

The commissioner said in the judgment that the public "was fed up with this menace and they are not willing to be bombarded with nuisance calls and text messages at all times of the day trying to get them to sign up to high interest loans."

However, you don't need to sell too many high-cost loans to make £175,000 and I have long thought that the Information Commissioner ought to be levying far higher fines and have the same powers as the Office for Fair Trading, where they can stop firms from trading when it is shown they are a detriment to consumers.

Personally, I can think of no circumstances where a lender should be able to cold call you at home or send you a text message unsolicited.

It is simply an unwelcome intrusion.

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