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Charity ordered to stop sending spam texts

Penny Appeal, a charity based in Wakefield, have been ordered to stop sending unsolicited marketing texts by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The charity sent more than 460,000 unsolicited texts over a ten-day period to 52,000 people who had either not provided consent or had clearly opted out. The texts were sent at the time of Ramadan in April and May 2022 to encourage people on a daily basis to donate.

354 complaints were made, including the complaints that texts were often received late at night. The ICO’s investigation found that the charity had worked from a new database where opt out requests were not recorded and the messages were sent to anyone that had interacted with the charity over the last five years.

The ICO has now issued an Enforcement Notice to order Penny Appeal to stop sending marketing communications within 30 days.

It is important for all charities to be aware of the legal duties they have when contacting the public. The ICO have shared the following advice to help charities remain compliant with the law:

  • Charities should only email or text someone if they have specifically consented to receiving them, such as by ticking an ‘opt-in’ box.
  • Consent has to be freely given and be fully informed. Therefore it is unlawful to make consent a condition of subscribing to a service.
  • An ‘opt-out’ option must be provided, and when received must be acted on promptly.
  • A clear ‘do not contact’ list should be kept of anyone who opts out or unsubscribes from communications. This list should be screened against each time the charity sends an email or text message.



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