UK privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has levied its biggest ever fine, against a lead generation firm said to have been responsible for 46 million nuisance calls.
Brighton-based Prodial operated out of a residential property, using internet-based telephone services to cheaply make automated marketing calls to tens of millions of victims.
After 1000+ people complained to the ICO about the pre-recorded PPI calls it investigated and found the firm had not sought consent from any of the people it called to contact them in that way.
In fact, any information harvested from the calls was then passed on to claims management companies – generating close to £1 million in turnover for Prodial, the ICO revealed.
The ICO has fined Prodial £350,000 and will now be following up with the firm's liquidators to recover the money.
Commissioner Christopher Graham said it was one of the worst cold calling cases the ICO had ever come across.
“This was a company that knew it was breaking the law. A company director admitted that once the ICO became involved, the company shut down,” he said in a statement.
“That stopped the calls, but we want to send a clear message to other firms that this type of law-breaking will not pay. That is why we have handed out our highest ever fine.”
The news comes just a day after the ICO revealed it had sent out a “stop” order to Sale-based Advanced Voip Solutions, which is accused of coordinating millions of unsolicited phone calls.
Two related firms in the same Manchester town, Money Help Marketing and Preferred Pension, have been hit with enforcement notices, while a fourth – The Review Experts – has been dissolved.
The ICO began investigating after receiving a whopping 6000 complaints about the calls – which are said to have covered PPI, mis-sold pensions, delayed flight compensation and more.
“Unfortunately, it’s surprisingly easy to set up an operation that makes automated calls because you don’t need specialist equipment, a huge staff or fancy premises,” said ICO group enforcement manager, Andy Curry.
“But they can’t hide from us. We’ll continue to keep one step ahead of them and crack down on illegal practices.”