The owner of a claims management company fined £175,000 for cold-calling consumers and described as demonstrating “the worst excesses of the industry”, has now been banned as a director for six years.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) received 5,535 complaints between 26 June and 31 October 2015 about automated direct marketing calls made by Swansea company Falcon and Pointer Ltd.
Ben Michael Winchester was its director from June 2015 until he resigned on 9 October 2015, and has given a disqualification undertaking – the equivalent of an order but without the need for court proceedings.
An investigation undertaken by the Claims Management Regulator (CMR) found that the company used automatic-dialling technology to make 40 million nuisance calls about mis-sold PPI in just three months.
The CMR also found that the company had coerced people into signing contracts without giving them enough time to understand the terms and conditions before taking payment, which is a serious breach of the regulator’s rules on conduct.
In January 2016, the CMR removed the company’s authorisation and then the ICO issued a fine of £175,000 but this remained unpaid by the date of its liquidation in June 2016.
At the time, Kevin Rousell, head of the CMR, said Falcon & Pointer had “demonstrated the worst excesses of the industry”.
He went on: “This firm clearly set out to plague the public and rip off consumers. They ignored warnings by us and the Information Commissioner’s Office, and have had their licence revoked as a result of that wilful ignorance.”
Commenting on the disqualification, Aldona O’Hara, chief investigator at the Insolvency Service said: “Directors who breach the rules made to protect members of the public can expect to be investigated by the Insolvency Service and enforcement action taken to remove them from the market place.”