A Brighton-based firm has gained the dubious honour of receiving the largest fine ever dished out by the Information Commissioner’s Office after it was whacked with a £350,000 monetary penalty for a “staggering” 46 million automated nuisance calls.
Over 1,000 people complained to the ICO about the automated calls from Prodial, which played recorded messages relating to PPI claims.
Complainants said they were called repeatedly and often there was no opt-out option. One person said they felt helpless that they could do nothing to stop the calls, which were very intrusive at all times of day or night. A doctor complained the constant spam calls were interfering with work as they had to answer calls in case of emergency.
However, the firm was operating out of a residential property and also hiding its identity, which made it harder for people to report the calls.
Evidence from the ICO’s investigation not only showed that the firm had no consent to make the calls, but the the information they gleaned was used to sell people’s personal details on to claims management companies.
Records indicated the marketing campaign could have produced a turnover of nearly £1m, but despite the sums of money involved, the company has been placed into voluntary liquidation by one of its directors on November 10 2015.
Prodial was launched by Louis Kidd, 27, in November 2014 from his mother’s house in leafy Woodingdean, just outsode Brighton, before selling it on to business partner Phil Carrington of Partridge Green for £40,000 in July 2015. Kidd then resigned.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said: “This is one of the worst cases of cold calling we have ever come across. The volume of calls made in just a few months was staggering.
“This was a company that knew it was breaking the law. A company director admitted that once the ICO became involved, the company shut down. That stopped the calls, but we want to send a clear message to other firms that this type of law-breaking will not pay. That is why we have handed out our highest ever fine.
“No matter what companies do to try to avoid the law, we will find a way to act.”
The ICO’s enforcement team is currently working with the liquidators to recover the fine.
The ICO has also ordered three Manchester-based companies to stop making unsolicited nuisance calls. Enforcement notices issued yesterday went to a network of companies in Sale responsible for millions of automated nuisance calls which covered mis-sold pensions, PPI and debt management. The companies have been ordered to stop or face legal action.
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