Two properties in the North West of England were raided this morning as part of an ongoing investigation into nuisance calls related to data thefts from car body repair shops.
The pair of search warrants — which had been obtained in court by Information Commissioner's Office — were executed this morning at homes in Macclesfield and Droylsden by the ICO, which informed The Register that it was usual practice for its officers to be accompanied by police in these circumstances.
The searches relate to an ongoing investigation into nuisance calls, which are made to people to encourage them to make personal injury claims in following on from road traffic accidents. The same investigation also saw a business and two homes in Macclesfield and Heald Green searched by ICO officers back in December.
According to the ICO, the investigation was initially prompted by complaints from car body repair centres and the National Body Repair Association (NBRA). The NBRA responded to The Register's enquiries by directing us to a statement made at the time of another raid in February, this time at a property in the Palmers Green area of London.
This was described as part of an investigation into the “illegal access of customer details from a nationwide car repair company” which it identifies as the Norfolk Accident Rescue Service, although it is unclear if this is part of the same investigation as that which led to today's raids.
“NARS told investigators that a computer system it uses had been unlawfully accessed to view car repair estimates which contained personal data,” it said, adding that “the person of interest to the search warrant carried out today is not a current employee of NARS.”
At the time, Jason Moseley, the director of NBRA, commented: “We are delighted that further actions are being taken against this criminal activity, our trade association stands firmly in support of NARS and others for their work with the ICO.”
Mike Shaw, the enforcement group manager at the ICO, said “Many people get unsolicited calls suggesting they’ve had been involved in an accident, and wonder how the caller had their details. Calls can leave them feeling uneasy and frustrated.
“We’re working hard to crack down on the illegal trade of personal details that fuel this part of the nuisance call industry. In December we searched three properties as part of an investigation focused on the North West. That investigation has now progressed, enabling us to search two homes today in order to gather more evidence.”
The ICO declined to comment regarding the nature of the data theft. ®