A claims management firm that bombarded people with millions of nuisance calls has been fined more than £200,000 – the first fine issued since the regulator was given new powers to do so last year.
The Hearing Clinic has been slapped with a fine of £220,000 by the Claims Management Regulator following hundreds of complaints from members of the public who received calls about claims for noise-induced hearing loss.
Many of those had actually subscribed to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which is supposed to ensure they don't receive marketing calls. See MoneySavingExpert.com's No More Junk guide for ways to stop spam texts, calls and mail.
The firm, which also traded as We Claim 4 U, RTA Lawyers 4 U, Industrial Disease Services and others, has been told not to call numbers registered on the TPS or to use data from third-party companies which it had been using to get contact details to call people.
The fine is the first to be issued by the Claims Management Regulator, after the Government changed the law in December 2014 giving it the power to issue fines.
Firms found to breach the regulator's rules of conduct now face fines of up to 20% of their annual turnover, as well as having their trading licence suspended or removed.
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'We won't hesitate to fine firms'
Claims Management Regulator, Kevin Rousell, says: "The new fines mean we have greater powers to crack down on claims management companies that make nuisance calls.
"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."
Claims management crack down
The new penalties are the latest in a series of moves by the Government to rid the industry of bad firms, which already includes banning firms from taking fees from customers before a contract has been signed and naming firms which are subject to enforcement action or under investigation.
As part of the Summer Budget 2015, Chancellor George Osborne announced proposals to cap charges CMCs can apply to customers.
If you've got a complaint about a claims management company, you can take it to the free Legal Ombudsman to look into.
Separately new figures show that 296 claims firms received warnings from the regulator in 2014 to 2015, and 105 had their licences removed. The total number of claims companies in the industry has also fallen by 300 this year to 1,752 (from a peak of 3,367 in 2011).