Nuisance call claim firm is fined
A claims company has become the first to be fined under new powers after making millions of "nuisance calls", the government has announced.
The Hearing Clinic, based in Derby, has been fined £220,000 following hundreds of complaints about speculative calls regarding hearing loss claims.
It was the first fine issued by the Claims Management Regulator.
The BBC has been unable to contact anyone from the Hearing Clinic for comment.
Many of those called by the business had subscribed to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), indicating that they did not want to receive unsolicited calls.
The government changed the law in December to allow the industry's watchdog to issue fines.
Claims Management Regulator Kevin Rousell said: "Companies should be in no doubt that if they break the rules, then we won't hesitate to fine them, in addition to the tough action we already take."
Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which?, said: "Hopefully this is the start of a concerted crackdown by regulators, using their new powers to send a clear message that nuisance calling won't be tolerated. This company made millions of unwanted calls so we welcome the Claims Management Regulator baring its teeth.
"The size of this fine should make other firms think twice before bombarding people with cold calls. We also need to see senior executives held personally accountable if their company makes unlawful sales calls."
More than 175,000 complaints were made to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) last year about nuisance calls and text messages.
However, the number of companies in the claims management industry has fallen from 3,367 at its peak in 2011 to 1,752.
How to deal with cold callers
- Ask cold callers to remove your information from their records
- Find out caller's number from a landline by dialling 1471 after the call
- Check with your phone company if you can be made ex-directory
- Give away personal or financial information, even if callers claim to be from a company you know
- Lose your temper. Be firm and hang up if the caller refuses to go away
- Call back phone numbers left on your voicemail, or reply to text messages you don't recognise
Source: BBC Skillswise