Wakefield-based charity Penny Appeal has been told to stop sending spam texts for the month Ramadan after it bombarded people with 460,000 messages asking for donations.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said Penny Appeal sent 52,000 messages to people over a 10-day period in 2022, triggering hundreds of people to reporting the matter to regulators.

The practice was described as “unacceptable” by Andy Curry, head of investigations at the ICO.

The marketing texts were sent to people who had never provided their consent, or who had “clearly opted out”, said the ICO.

People received them between April and May 2022 as part of a sustained campaign over Ramadan, encouraging people on a daily basis to donate to the charity’s appeals.

Many of the texts urged people to pay their Zakat, an obligatory donation to charity and one of the five pillars of Islam, specifically to Penny Appeal, the regulator added.

More than 350 people complained to the ICO and the Mobile UK’s Spam Reporting Service.

Complainants said their requests to opt out were ignored and described the texts as “intrusive” and “unwanted.”

Complaints about a similar marketing campaign had been investigated by the ICO since 2020, with the regulator being obliged to intervene.

The charity had committed to improving its compliance with direct marketing law, but further complaints revealed it had continued to send illegal marketing texts.

While still under investigation, Penny Appeal sent further spam texts over Ramadan, which prompted to even more complaints.

The ICO has now issued an Enforcement Notice, ordering Penny Appeal to stop sending marketing communications without consent within 30 days.

“This is unacceptable and we will act decisively to protect the public from unsolicited marketing texts,” Mr Curry said speaking to the BBC.

“Despite providing advice and guidance to improve this charity’s compliance, we were left with no choice but to take enforcement action in order to protect the public.”