A payment protection insurance (PPI) claims firm has been hit with a £350,000 fine after making 146 million illegal phone calls to consumers.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued the fine to claims firm Your Money Rights, based in Carmarthenshire, Wales.
The ruling says the firm had left consumers feeling harassed and threatened by its automated calls.
Between March and July 2016, around 146 million calls were initiated by the firm, more than any other firm previously fined by the ICO.
Firms are only able to make automated marketing calls if they have been given consent by consumers. Your Money Rights was in breach of this law.
It also failed to state the company name or contact details in the recorded message.
The £350,000 fine is due to be passed on to HM Treasury, although the directors of Your Money Rights are currently trying to dissolve the company. The ICO says it will “work with insolvency practitioners and the liquidator” to recover this amount if the company is dissolved.
The government is looking to change the law to let the ICO directly fine company directors to avoid this situation happening in future.
‘I am exceptionally annoyed’
The ICO has published some of the complaints made by consumers about the conduct of Your Money Rights.
One consumer said: "I feel threatened by these unsolicited and frequent nuisance calls and am concerned that if I follow one of the options I will be drawn into a scam.”
A complainant added: "It is calling twice a day. It drives me insane. I have a very sick relative I help care for so need to answer the phone."
Another consumer told the ICO: "I am exceptionally annoyed that these companies are allowed to intrude into my home and not even have the decency to have a real person on the line.”
‘We’re cracking down on illegal automated calls’
Steve Eckersley, ICO head of enforcement, says: "We’re cracking down on illegal automated calls on behalf of the British public. They are a blight on society that disregards people’s right to have their wish for peace and quiet in their own home respected.
"We know people find calls playing recorded messages particularly intrusive because they are unable to speak to a call agent. Your Money Rights should have known that the law around automated calls is stricter than for other marketing calls."