A Brighton-based robo-call spam operation has been hit by a record £350,000 fine by data privacy watchdogs. Since the firm has been closed down and entered liquidation, however, even the Information Commissioner admits the fine is unlikely to be paid.
Prodial Ltd, a lead generation firm responsible for more than 46 million automated nuisance calls, has been served the ICO’s largest ever fine for its flagrant anti-social behaviour.
More than 1,000 people complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about the automated calls, which played recorded messages relating to PPI claims.
Complainants said they were called repeatedly and without being given any means to put a stop to the nuisance because no opt-out option was offered. A doctor complained the constant spam calls were interfering with work as they had to answer them in case of a genuine emergency.
Brighton-based Prodial Ltd was operating out of a residential property and took steps to hide its identity, a factor that made it harder for people to report its nuisance calls, an aggravating factor in its offending.
The law is clear that companies can only make calls to people who have specifically consented to being contacted by automated marketing calls. An ICO investigation revealed Prodial had secured no such consent.
The ICO’s investigation found that information from these calls was used to sell people’s personal details on to claims management companies. Records indicated the marketing campaign could have produced a turnover of nearly £1m. Despite the sums of money involved, the firm has been placed into voluntary liquidation by one of its directors.
Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, said: “This is one of the worst cases of cold calling we have ever come across. The volume of calls made in just a few months was staggering.
“This was a company that knew it was breaking the law,” continued Graham. “A company director admitted that once the ICO became involved, the company shut down.”
in a statement, Graham said that levying a massive fine on the now defunct firm served to lay down a marker, potentially discouraging anybody else from adopting the same business model.
“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 ICO’s enforcement team is currently working with the liquidators to recover the fine. ®