21Dec

Firms need to comply with the requirements of both their main industry regulator, and those of the data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

In August 2015, the Claims Management Regulator at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) fined Aurangzeb Iqbal £220,000 for making large numbers of unsolicited marketing calls regarding hearing loss claims. Many of those he contacted were registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), or claimed that they had previously informed the firm they did not wish to receive further marketing calls.

The ICO has now taken its own action. It has issued Mr Iqbal with a ‘Stop Now’ order, instructing him to stop making unsolicited calls. If a Stop Now order is breached, it could lead to criminal prosecution.

Mr Iqbal, who trades as The Hearing Clinic and whose premises are in Derby, is appealing against the MoJ fine. It is unclear at present whether he will appeal against the ICO’s sanction.

The data protection regulator says that Mr Iqbal’s firm made false statements to consumers telling them that they had worked in noisy environments, made concerning statements to the effect that they could be at risk of hearing loss, sometimes made multiple calls to the same household, and engaged in aggressive sales tactics.

The ICO conducted a three month monitoring exercise on Mr Iqbal and offered him advice on how to comply with the legal requirements, but the watchdog still received some 278 complaints about his marketing practices.

Andy Curry, the ICO’s Group Enforcement manager said:

“Aurangzeb Iqbal had every chance to improve his practices in line with the law. Our team provided advice and guidance and yet the complaints kept coming in.

“The Claims Management Regulation Unit has already fined Aurangzeb Iqbal but our enforcement notice should stop him from making any more nuisance calls.

“We believe complaints about this type of hearing claims call are on the rise and we do have more enforcement action in the pipeline. This should send a clear message to these companies that they must operate in line with the regulations or face the consequences.”

It is a breach of the European Union’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations to make marketing calls to consumers who have registered with the TPS, or who have informed a firm that they wish to opt out of communications of this nature.

In recent weeks the ICO has taken a number of actions in its fight against nuisance calls and texts. It fined two suppliers of call blocking software – Nuisance Call Blocker Ltd and Telecom Protection Service Ltd – £90,000 and £80,000 respectively, for making marketing phone calls to individuals registered with the TPS; and fined claims manager UK Money Solutions £80,000 for sending unsolicited marketing texts. It also wrote to more than 1,000 list brokers asking them to provide details of their arrangements for ensuring consumers give consent to their data being processed, and of the arrangements they have in place for ensuring TPS registered customers are not contacted.

The ICO closely assists the MoJ in regulating the claims management industry.
The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.