A SCOTTISH company has become the first in the UK to be fined for "blighting" the public with thousands of unwanted marketing calls.

Kitchen-fitting firm DM Design has been ordered to pay £90,000 after it bombarded homeowners with telephone calls, even though they had signed up with a service that bans unsolicited contact.

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The Cumbernauld-based firm drew almost 2000 complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) after consistently failing to check if individuals had opted out of receiving marketing calls.

The ICO criticised DM Design's "lamentable" attitude towards people it had disturbed and said it responded to just a handful of the complaints it received.

In one case, an employee refused to remove a complainant's details from its database and threatened to "continue to call at more inconvenient times such as Sunday lunchtime".

By law, direct marketing firms making live calls are not allowed to contact people on the TPS register, unless an individual has given their permission to be approached.

Complaints levelled against the company included staff giving false statements about who they were and pretending the householder's spouse had already spoken to them.

Numerous calls had been made to people who had asked not to be contacted again. One person was so offended by an "intimidating" call from the company they called the police, while another said they had targeted her mother, who suffered from dementia.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said DM Design had shown a clear disregard for the law.

He said: "Today's action sends out a clear message to the marketing industry that this menace will not be tolerated. This fine will not be an isolated penalty. Other companies are showing a similar disregard for the law and we have every intention of taking further enforcement action against those that continue to bombard people with unlawful marketing texts and calls."

Cold-calling has been growing in recent years as companies make ever wider use of phone lines and texting to find business.

In 2012, more than 80,000 people who had opted out of receiving unsolicited telephone calls complained about being contacted by direct marketing firms, a 143% increase since 2010. So far this year there have been almost 10,000 complaints to TPS, while consumer affairs magazine Which? found seven in 10 people received unsolicited calls in the past three months.

Ofcom monitored a six-month period in 2012 and found 71% of people with a landline had an unwanted marketing call and 63% received a recorded message.

However, until now no company has been fined for contacting people who made it clear they did not want calls from marketing companies.

John Mitchison, head of TPS, said: "Unsolicited phone calls can be annoying and cause distress to millions of people. It's the responsibility of the regulators to protect the consumer. We hope the ICO continues to investigate companies that are breaching the law and welcome more enforcement action against other law breakers."

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "We're pleased to see the information commissioner taking more action, but this small fine is far from the sort of deterrent needed to call time on the use of nuisance calls and texts. With seven in 10 people receiving an unsolicited call in the past three months, it is clear the current approach to enforcement isn't working and much tougher action is needed."

The ICO said it has informed two more companies it intends to impose significant penalties over breaches of the law. A further 10 firms are being investigated.

No-one at DM Design was available for comment last night.