The Claims Management Regulator – the watchdog launched earlier this year to keep the industry in check – has trumped the data regulator by issuing a £850,000 fine for a “deliberate and sustained” campaign of nuisance calls, the biggest ever penalty dished out.
The National Advice Clinic, based in Lancashire, made almost 6 million calls between October last year and April this year about noise-induced hearing loss claims, in what the CMR branded a which showed an “alarming disregard for the misery their tactics can cause”.
Many calls made by the firm, which also goes under the name of the Industrial Hearing Clinic or the Central Compensation Office, went to households registered with the Telephone Preference Service. Ofcom received almost 2,000 complaints about the calls.
The Information Commissioner’s Office can only fine firms up to £500,000 for breaches of the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations. However, the CMR has the power to fine bigger companies – those with annual revenues of £500,000 or more – up to 20% of their turnover, although firms turning over less than £500,000 a year can be subject to a penalty of no more than £100,000.
CMR boss Kevin Rousell said: “This company’s cold-calling campaign was deliberate and sustained, and a flagrant breach of our marketing requirements. They showed an alarming disregard for the misery their tactics can cause, particularly to elderly and vulnerable people. The size of this penalty demonstrates how seriously we take this issue – nuisance calls will not be tolerated.”
Justice minister Lord Faulks added: “Nuisance calls are a real scourge to households, and people have simply had enough. I am pleased the regulator has imposed such a substantial fine for such blatant and shocking behaviour.
“This follows other large fines and the removal of over a thousand licences from claims management companies since 2010. The government is committed to protecting the public from this nuisance – that at best wastes people’s time and at worst causes significant distress.”
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