ICO demand – is it a scam?

by Readers Question

9:52 AM, 10th December 2019
About 4 months ago

ICO demand – is it a scam?

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ICO demand – is it a scam?

Our Ltd company has just received a demand from ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) claiming that we are not registered with them. That is true…. I have never heard of or from them before.

They say our customers, clients and tenants expect us to take our data protection obligations seriously like the many real estate companies that have paid their fee on time. If we have not paid a data protection fee to ICO we could be liable to pay fines of up to £4000.

In former times we did take personal details from our, mainly student, tenants….names, addresses ,telephone numbers, college details etc. Nowadays however we use agents and although, if we wanted, we could have copies of all tenancy agreements we normally leave all that with the agents.

As we do not hold these details I think the rules (if there are such rules) do not apply to us directly, but might apply to our agents. But something about this demand smells of a scam.

How come we have never heard of this before? Has anybody else received a similar demand?


Editors Note:

ICO blog 03/12/2019 >> Click here

We have launched a campaign to contact all registered companies in the UK reminding them of their legal responsibility to pay a data protection fee. The move marks the start of an extensive programme to make sure the Data Protection Fee is paid by all those who need to pay it.

Under the Data Protection Act 2018 organisations processing personal information are required to pay a data protection fee unless they are exempt. You can quickly and easily find out if your organisation needs to pay the fee by using our self-assessment checker, but if you hold personal information for business purposes on any electronic device, including using CCTV for crime prevention purposes, it is likely an annual fee payment is due.

You can avoid us needing to contact you by either:

  1. Visiting our website to pay your organisation’s Data Protection Fee online
  2. Completing this form to tell us why your organisation is exempt from paying the fee.

Since the new annual data protection fee was introduced in May 2018, over 600,000 organisations have registered to pay it. They have gone on to access the range of services and support we provide to help them to comply with the law and give their customers, clients and suppliers trust and confidence in the way they process personal information. At the same time, between 1 July and 30 September 2019, we issued 340 monetary penalties to organisations that have not paid the Data Protection Fee.

As well as naming most organisations we need to fine, we also publish the names of all fee-paying organisations. This helps them make it clear to their customers, clients and suppliers that they are aware of their legal obligations when processing personal information.

We know data protection legislation can be complicated and we are here to help. The reminders we are sending to organisations are to help make it easy to comply with the law as well as access a great deal of advice and support available from the ICO. This includes:

  • a Helpline and Live Chat service dedicated to supporting small businesses and organisations;
  • a series of self-assessment tools and products on our website;
  • advisory visits and support designed to help small businesses and organisations to comply with the law.

The cost of the data protection fee depends on a company’s size and turnover. There are three tiers of fee ranging from £40 and £2,900, but for most organisations it will be £40 or £60. The cost is reduced by £5 if you sign up by direct debit and you can find out how much you need to pay by taking a self-assessment.

For further help and advice, call the ICO’s small business helpline on 0303 123 1113 between 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).


Mick Roberts

10:31 AM, 21st December 2019
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by David Price at 21/12/2019 - 08:53
David Price,

Yes perhaps everyone ha ha. That is true. EVERY ONE. Landlords & tenants.

I think I have about 17 tenants so far with UC.
Every EVERY one has been 100% failure rate.

I learn't & knew a lot of things with HB over 22 years. I don't want to learn again with UC, especially since they have gone back to the Stone Age & are doing worse & less normal things than HB was in 1997. Reluctantly though, I'm having to learn UC.

Mick Roberts

10:32 AM, 21st December 2019
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by David Atkins at 21/12/2019 - 09:15
David Atkins,

Yes same system, why twice? I have even more companies around that latest company, & I'm sure gonna' be getting more letters soon.

All my new re-lets go with Letting Agent, so I ain't getting any more private info going forwards.

Graham Bowcock

11:13 AM, 21st December 2019
About 4 months ago


The liability rests with each entity, not with the system. Your limited company is not you, so each entity should be registered.

On a separate issue, if you own houses in your own name then you should be identified as the landlord, not your limited company. I once had a judge throw out a case (for a client) where the landlord was not correct, even though the two identities were connected. You will, presumably, be putting the income down as your own as it is not your company's income. Two more traps to catch you out I'm afraid!

David Atkins

11:26 AM, 21st December 2019
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Graham Bowcock at 21/12/2019 - 11:13
The separate issues you mention don’t apply to me and are schoolboy errors. On a separate, separate note the data protection act legislation applies to organisations, businesses and government. I wonder if the extension to cover data processing by individuals such as landlords has ever been challenged in court. 🤔

Michael Barnes

17:14 PM, 21st December 2019
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by David Atkins at 21/12/2019 - 11:26
Landlords run businesses.

Michael Barnes

17:49 PM, 21st December 2019
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 21/12/2019 - 08:39

It is the company that is managing the data, not an individual that is in some way connected with the company. Therefore the company is required to be registered for data protection.

Individuals acting as landlords need to be registered because they are the "business".

If your company is registered and all tenancies are in the name of the company, then you do not need to be registered: your company is required to appoint someone who is responsible for Data Protection in the company (you); that person is required to ensure that everyone who processes the data (you) on behalf of the company is appropriately trained.

Luke P

18:33 PM, 21st December 2019
About 4 months ago

Cheeky b*stards…

“On 1 April 2019, the rules around paying the data protection fee changed. Members of the House of Lords, elected representatives and prospective representatives (including police and crime commissioners) are exempt from paying a fee, unless they process personal data for purposes other than the exercise of their functions as a Member of the House of Lords, an elected representative or as a prospective representative.”

Mick Roberts

11:54 AM, 22nd December 2019
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Michael Barnes at 21/12/2019 - 17:49
My company is not managing the data though.

I'm lost now, I'll carry on as can be & let's see what happens. Most important thing for me is tenants are still in a home with boiler & heater & doors & windows working etc. And not homeless as many are with the latest Selective Licensing & UC etc. That's surely what's the most important thing in 2019 2020. Or maybe it's not, maybe cause I'm doing a good job of housing people with very little problems, maybe the Govt & Councils would like to throw us some problems.

I ain't going for more training, I've been learning all me life, had enough of learning, this brain needs a rest.

I've left ICO a message anyway, we shall wait for their reply.

Luke P

12:59 PM, 22nd December 2019
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 22/12/2019 - 11:54
It has to be electronically held/accessed/processed too, I’m sure.

David Price

13:37 PM, 22nd December 2019
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 22/12/2019 - 11:54
". . . maybe the Govt & Councils would like to throw us some problems."
More problems!!!!

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