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UK charities investigated by ICO


Four UK charities are being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) over accusations of calling vulnerable people who have “opted out” of unsolicited sales calls.

The charities NSPCC, Oxfam, Macmillan Cancer Support and British Red Cross may have been calling people who have registered with the Telephone Preference Service to no longer receive sales calls.

The accusations come after the Daily Mail sent an undercover reporter to work for three weeks at GoGen, a company which is used by 40 of the biggest charities in the country. The report claimed that people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia were being treated as legitimate targets for fundraising, as long as they agreed to the call and could answer basic questions over the phone.

The charities involved have said that they are taking the claims seriously and looking into them.

The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said:
"These seem to be very serious allegations and it looks as if something has seriously gone wrong.
"The question of interest for us is: are the charities trading in lists of generous people and are charities taking advantage of people's generosity, or indeed just taking advantage of people full stop?"
"This is a boiler room operation, this is cold calling. We need to get to the facts."

Tim Hunter, Oxfam's fundraising director, said:
"At this time there is no primary evidence to suggest this is not the case, however following these allegations we temporarily suspended all telephone fundraising activity to ensure companies who work on our behalf meet not only the regulatory standards but also our own high moral and ethical standards."

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