Homes in the North West have been searched as part of an extensive ongoing investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The investigation relates to nuisance calls that encourage people to make personal injury claims about road traffic accidents being linked to the theft of data from car repair centres.
The ICO executed two search warrants this week – one in Gatley, Greater Manchester, on Wednesday and the other in Wilmslow, Cheshire, on Thursday.
Computers and phones were seized during the searches as the ICO continues to investigate nuisance calls prompted by the theft of people’s details from car repair centres throughout the UK. The items will now be subject to forensic examination and investigation.
Mike Shaw, ICO Criminal Investigations Group Manager, said:
“This illegal trade has multiple negative effects – both on the car repair businesses targeted for their customer data and the subsequent nuisance calls made to customers. These can be extremely unsettling and distressing.
“Our searches this week are the latest step in us tracking down the unscrupulous individuals involved in this industry. These people won’t get away with it – any person or business involved in the theft and illegal trade of personal data may find themselves subject to ICO action.”
ICO investigators are looking at how the data was stolen, who stole it and which companies have subsequently made calls to the public encouraging them to make compensation claims about to accidents they may have been involved in.
The ongoing investigation, named Operation Pelham, started in May 2016 and has so far involved:
The ICO continues to work closely with the National Body Repair Association on the investigation.
There is another, separate, ongoing ICO investigation also related to the illegal acquisition of data from the automotive repair industry. This has involved a search in London in February.
Notes for Editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
- The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
- The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law that will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.
- Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
- fairly and lawfully processed;
- processed for limited purposes;
- adequate, relevant and not excessive;
- accurate and up to date;
- not kept for longer than is necessary;
- processed in line with your rights;
- secure; and
- not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
- The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:
- Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
- Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.