A claims management company (CMC) that made millions of nuisance calls and did so in an “aggressive and rude” way has been fined £250,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Bury based Reliance Advisory – which is no longer authorised by as a CMC – made more than 15 million calls in the first six months of 2019, of which 1.1 million connected to people who had not consented to receive them.
Some of the complaints received by the ICO referenced the company’s attitude. “The call concluded with the operator telling me to ‘F*** off’ after I told her I was not interested,” one said.
The fine is half of the maximum that the ICO can levy for breaches of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.
Andy Curry, head of investigations at the ICO, said the complaints detailed how people received persistent and repeated calls multiple times per day.
The company appeared to employ “aggressive and rude practices”, he added.
He went on: “The law exists for a reason, and that is to protect people from this high degree of intrusion into their private lives. Businesses must respect the law and the onus is on them to be aware of their responsibilities.
“Pleading ignorance of the rules, as was put forward in this case, will never be a valid argument.
Reliance was unable to provide evidence of consent for the majority of calls it made. Where it did provide evidence, for data that it had purchased in the previous 30 days, the consent was found to have not been freely given, specific or informed.
The ICO said that whilst evidence provided by Reliance suggested that some steps were taken to ensure that its data providers obtained valid consent for the purposes of direct marketing calls, “it should have been apparent that further consent was required to make calls in relation to claims management services.
“The commissioner is of the view that if Reliance Advisory had familiarised itself with the relevant legislation and guidance and set its due diligence checks accordingly, it would have realised that it could not lawfully make unsolicited direct marketing calls for the purposes of claims management services.”
The law banning unsolicited calls for direct marketing purposes in relation to claims management services came into force on 8 September 2018.
Yesterday we reported on a letter to CMCs sent by their regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, which said that CMCs have shown “a poor understanding of, and sometimes attitude to, their regulatory obligations”.