A PPI company that made 75 million nuisance calls in just four months has been fined £350,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office.
The director of Miss-sold Products UK Ltd will not face any punishment despite the company he ran “blatantly ignoring the law” because of shortcomings in existing legislation, the ICO said on Wednesday.
Miss-sold Products made recorded, automated marketing calls without the consent of recipients, mostly promoting compensation claims, the ICO said on Wednesday.
The firm also broke the law by failing to identify the organisation making the calls and it used so-called “added value” numbers that charge people who call back.
“I have been receiving calls from this number for many months, sometimes every day,” one customer said. “I feel trapped in being unable to end the disruption to my attention and intrusion on my privacy.”
Some people were contacted on multiple occasions with others saying they were unable to opt out of receiving the calls. Others expressed further distress as they were concerned that calls late at night may have been from family members or those to whom they provided care.
ICO enforcement group manager Andy Curry said he would “come down hard on rogue operators who want to treat the law and the UK public with contempt”, but said the Government needed to do more to tackle the scourge of spam calls.
Plans to make company directors personally liable for illegal marketing calls need to be brought forward “as a matter of urgency”, he said. As the law stands, directors can escape punishment after profiting from nuisance calls as only the company itself is liable.
Some claims management companies (CMCs) charge more than a third of the compensation received, often amounting to several thousand pounds per customer. Regulators have advised claimants to submit complaints themselves rather than through a CMC.
The ICO received 146 complaints from the public about Miss-sold Products, relating to spam calls made between 16 November 2015 and 7 March 2016.
“This company blatantly ignored the laws on telephone marketing, making a huge volume of intrusive calls over a short period of time and without any apparent attempt to ensure they had the consent of the people they were harassing,” Mr Curry added.
The company – which had its registered office in Milford Haven, Wales, before it was moved in 2017 to Darlington, County Durham – had applied to strike it off the Companies House Register but the ICO has blocked the move so that it can try to recover the £350,000 penalty.
The directors are listed as Richard Jones, 30, of Ammanford in Carmarthenshire, who was the sole director at the time of the nuisance calls, and Douglas Albury, 47, whose registered address is in Manchester. Mr Albury took over as director on 1 March 2017.
The company was called Penguin Claims Limited before changing its name in November 2015.
“In the absence of a change in the law, the ICO will continue to face challenges in the recovery of penalties, and rogue directors will think they can get away with causing nuisance to members of the public,” Mr Curry said.
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