A claims management company supplying cases for personal injury solicitor firms has been fined £80,000 for making unwanted nuisance calls.
The Information Commissioner’s Office penalised Bolton-based Direct Assist Ltd after receiving 801 complaints about the company from January 2013 to July 2014.
Every complaint came from someone who was registered with the Telephone Preference Service, and who had not given permission for the company to call them.
One household reported being called 470 times by the company, while another complainant who was elderly and deaf said the conduct of the callers left them in fear of answering the phone.
One complainant was told by Direct Assist they were likely to be called for three years until they made a claim, despite repeated requests for their details to be removed.
The ICO investigation found Direct Assist told staff to deliberately use phone numbers from lists that included people who had not given permission to be called. There were no formal staff policies or procedures to ensure compliance with the privacy and electronic communication regulations.
Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said the telephone preference service had contacted the company 525 times to warn them about complaints being made about it.
‘Direct Assist’s behaviour shows a blatant disregard for the law and the customers they tried to contact,’ he said.
‘This penalty sends a clear message that this type of irresponsible marketing is totally unacceptable. Companies need to think about their responsibilities, the law and the consequences if they try to break it.’
Following service of the final notice by the ICO on the company, and at the request of HM Revenue & Customs, Direct Assist has gone into liquidation and the ICO will register as an unsecured creditor in an attempt to obtain the fine.