No doubt many of you, like me, regularly receive irritating text messages and emails soliciting compensation for personal injury and missold PPI; irrespective of whether you have been involved in an accident or purchased payment protection insurance. Many of you, like me, wonder how on earth these ‘spammers’ have managed to get hold of your details and how much the companies that are using them have paid for it. After all, none of us have consented (knowingly) to them contacting us. Not only is it worrying that these unscrupulous individuals have your information, but there is no way of keeping them out.
In Chambers, we pride ourselves on having a state-of-the-art firewall, yet it appears to be ineffective in blocking all Spam mail. Even when you put an email into your junk folder and ‘block’ it, another one from the same address manages to get into your inbox.Whilst writing this article, I received no fewer than 10 Spam emails ranging from the innocuous to the downright dodgy – apparently I am related to Prince Alfonso Lagos Kinsha Bokassa II who has left me a small fortune in a deposit account at the Bank of Botswana, all I need do is send my UK bank account, sort code, password and specimen signature.
Well, I was somewhat pleased to read, on Monday, that the Information Commissioner’s Office is doing something about. Two managers from an unidentified ‘Spam’ company are facing a fine of £250,000 in an effort by the ICO to crackdown on this disreputable industry. The ‘spamming’ in question was concerned with solicitous texts and emails for PI and PPI compensation. This year saw a record 30,000 complaints by members of the public about being hassled by these companies.
One of the main concerns, facing Regulators, is that when recipients reply “Stop” their details are removed from one database and added onto another database.
Furthermore fining these companies may not prove to be effective as a deterrent. After all many of these ‘spammers’ are fly-by-night merchants who will shut-up shop the moment they know that 'The Law' is on to them. The alternative is to fine the companies that engage their services. If one were to do that ‘innocent’ legitimate business would face continuous fines whether they agreed to the ‘spamming’ of their product or not. Take for instance, Pfizer and Viagra. This has to be one of the highest ‘spammed’ products in the world.
The simple solution is to ban spam altogether for PI and PPI. I am doubtful that this will happen, as there is too much money in it. There are many genuine claims in both areas of litigation. The risk in soliciting business this way is that it may encorage those who do not have a genuine claim to make a claim.
Still, it is nice to see that the ICO is doing something worthy with its time other than persecuting barristers whose only crimes were to have their work computers or papers stolen...