Good news for anyone that hates receiving those pre-recorded calls that advise you of your right to compensation for a road traffic accident that you didn’t know you’d had…

Earlier this year, the independent body set up to uphold information rights, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), issued its largest ever fine of £350,000 on a lead generation firm responsible for making or instigating over 46 million automated calls without individuals’ prior consent and in contravention of Privacy laws.

Over 1000 people complained to the ICO about repeated automated calls from Prodial Limited, which played recorded messages relating to PPI claims, often without providing information about how to opt-out of receiving the calls.  The company operated out of a residential property and withheld its caller line identification, making it difficult for individuals to report the nuisance calls.  Personal details obtained through the calls were sold on to claims management companies.

Companies can use internet phone lines to make huge numbers of pre-recorded marketing calls.  The law is clear that companies can only make calls to people who have specifically consented to being contacted in this way, and the ICO found that Prodial had not obtained such consent.

Despite the company making an estimated £1 million turnover, it was placed into voluntary liquidation once the ICO became involved.  The ICO’s enforcement team is working with the liquidators to recover the fine.

Christopher Graham, Information Commissioner, said, “No matter what companies do to try to avoid the law, we will find a way to act.”

The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty of up to £500,000 on a data controller.  The ICO will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.

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