A Brighton company has been fined a record £350,000 for making a ‘staggering’ 46 million nuisance calls.
Prodial made the millions of automated marketing calls aimed at generating business leads until it stopped trading last November when the owner learnt that it was being investigated.
Although the company has gone into liquidation, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is trying to recover some of the fine – the biggest it has ever issued – from the liquidator.
The ICO said that it had received more than a thousand complaints over a nine-month period last year about automated calls relating to PPI (payment protection insurance) claims.
The cold-calling company was set up in 2014 and was run by Louis Kidd, 28, of Catherine Vale, Woodingdean, until July last year.
It was taken over by Phillip Carrington, 55, of Wilton Close, Partridge Green, near Horsham, last July.
The ICO said: “Complainants said they were called repeatedly and often there was no opt-out option.
“One person said they felt helpless that they could do nothing to stop the calls, which were very intrusive at all times of day or night.
“A doctor complained the constant spam calls were interfering with work as they had to answer calls in case of emergency.
“Brighton-based Prodial Ltd was operating out of a residential property and also hiding its identity, which made it harder for people to report the calls.
“Companies can use internet phone lines to cheaply make enormous numbers of recorded marketing calls.
“The law is clear that companies can only make calls to people who have specifically consented to being contacted in this way.
“But the ICO investigation found Prodial had no such consent.
“Evidence from the ICO’s investigation showed the 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 £1 million.
“But despite the sums of money involved, the company has been placed into voluntary liquidation by one of its directors.”
Information commissioner Christopher Graham 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. A company director admitted that once the ICO became involved, the company shut down.
“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.
“No matter what companies do to try to avoid the law, we will find a way to act.”