A former manager of a claims company has been fined by the courts after pleading guilty to making ‘blagging’ calls.
Blagging calls are where contact is made by someone using a false identity in order to obtain information. In this case, employees of Liverpool-based UK Claims Organisation Ltd claimed to be from solicitors’ firms when phoning insurers to try to obtain personal data and information about policyholders’ road traffic accidents. Once the data had been obtained, the company intended to sell the information to solicitors for use in personal injury cases.
The prosecution also alleged that the company had illegally obtained data from a car hire firm prior to making the calls to insurers.
Joseph Walker, a manager at UK Claims Organisation at the time, was convicted of unlawfully obtaining personal data under section 55 of the Data Protection Act in a hearing at Liverpool Magistrates Court. He was fined £2,000, and was also required to pay the prosecution’s legal costs of £1,600, plus a £15 victim surcharge.
Two employees of UK Claims Organisation had already been fined at Liverpool Magistrates Court back in November 2016 over this matter.
Kayleigh Billington was fined £320, plus a payment of £250 to cover costs and a victim surcharge of £20.
Lesley Severs was fined £250, plus a payment of £400 for costs and a victim surcharge of £20.
Mr Walker, who now resides in Australia, did not answer a summons to attend the November hearing, and was only arrested in May of this year when he paid a visit to the UK on holiday. Mr Walker was arrested on board the plane at Heathrow before he had even set foot on UK soil, and was led from the aircraft in handcuffs.
Elizabeth Denham, head of the data protection regulator the Information Commissioner, said:
“Blagging calls are one of the many disreputable and dishonest tactics we see being used by rogue firms. People’s personal data has real monetary value and this practice shows the lengths some people and organisations will go to in order to get hold of it. We are happy the court has recognised the seriousness of the offence by imposing a fine.”
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