09Jul

The ICO imposed a £200,000 fine on a claims management company for making unsolicited marketing calls.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has fined a claims management company that made more than 11 million unsolicited calls about payment protection insurance.

The £200,000 penalty for the Leeds-based firm was imposed after it was unable to provide evidence to the ICO that any of the recipients had consented to receiving the calls. The firm is also subject to an Enforcement Notice, meaning that it will be guilty of a criminal offence if it continues to make unsolicited calls.

The data protection regulator adds that there was no evidence that the firm provided any training to its staff regarding their obligations under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. It also says that the firm continued to call individuals who had specifically asked not to be contacted.

In the case of some of the customers, the firm was able to point to a consent statement on a website, but the ICO pointed out that here customers were actually being asked to consent to receiving communications from as many as 435 different companies. There is therefore no way that they could possibly have been aware that they were signing up for PPI calls from one specific Leeds-based CMC.

CMCs have been banned from making unsolicited direct marketing calls since September 2018. Firms in all sectors are forbidden from making unsolicited calls to anyone who appears on the Telephone Preference Service list unless the person in question explicitly tells the firm that they do not object to being contacted.

The firm’s misconduct in this case continued throughout the period from May 2018 to November 2019.

Examples of complaints made about the firm include: 

“The advisor was aggressive in manner, and I felt quite threatened by his attitude. I am now worried that they intend to charge me for a service that I do not want, have never contacted them regarding PPI, and I have not signed any documents to the contrary. All I want is for them to stop these aggressive phone calls.”

“I was asked if I had made any PPI claims. I then asked for the caller to remove my number from the system. She then said that she was not allowed to remove numbers from the system, and that I would have to do it myself. I asked her if she was aware of the GDPR regulations and she said, “Of course, but are you on the GDPR?””

“I told them clearly I was not interested and asked where they got my data from. Refused to tell me and said it was obtained legally and they were FCA authorised and GDPR compliant. I asked to not be contacted again and remove me from their listing but then got another call.”

Natasha Longson, ICO Investigations Manager, said: 

“It’s clear from the complaints we received that these calls caused real distress. What’s more, the firm continued to bombard people by phoning even when they’d been asked to stop.

“It’s thanks to members of the public that this firm came to our attention and we could take action to bring a stop to this. I would encourage anyone pestered by other rogue operators to report them to the ICO.”