PI claims company fined £80,000 by ICO for unsolicited nuisance calls

PI claims company fined £80,000 by ICO for unsolicited nuisance calls

A personal injuries claims management company has been issued with a monetary penalty by the ICO for making direct marketing calls to people without their consent.

Between January 2013 and July 2014, the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) registered 801 concerns about the Bolton-based Direct Assist Ltd which offered access to solicitors for personal injury insurance claims.

Every complaint received came from someone who was registered with the TPS and who had not given permission for the company to call them.

One complainant who was elderly and deaf said the conduct of the callers left them in fear of answering the phone that they relied on to maintain contact with family.

Direct Assist continued to call despite being given this information.

One household reported being called 470 times by the company, while another complainant was told by Direct Assist that they were likely to be called for three years until they made a claim, despite repeated requests for their details to be removed.

An ICO investigation discovered Direct Assist instructed its staff to deliberately use phone numbers from lists that included people on the TPS.

The company also had no formal staff policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations(PECR).

The business even claimed the calls were being made by someone else using their company name.

Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO (pictured) said: “Direct Assist’s behaviour shows a blatant disregard for the law and the customers they tried to contact.

“Even though the TPS contacted them 525 times to warn them about complaints being made they continued to market their services through unsolicited phone calls.

“This penalty sends a clear message that this type of irresponsible marketing is totally unacceptable. Companies need to think about their responsibilities, the law and the consequences if they try to break it.”

Following service of the final notice by the ICO on the company, and at the request of HMRC, Direct Assist has now gone into liquidation and the ICO intends to register as an unsecured creditor in an attempt to obtain the fine.

It is a breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations to send text messages to people for marketing purposes without their prior consent, and anyone who receives an unsolicited text message can report the message using the tool available on the ICO website.

The ICO has published detailed guidance for companies carrying out marketing – explaining their legal requirements under the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

The guidance covers the circumstances in which organisations are able to carry out marketing over the phone, by text, by email, by post or by fax.

Share icon
Share this article: