back to article UK worker who sold customers' data to nuisance callers must cough up £1k

A staffer at an accident repair biz has had to pay almost £1,000 after he sold customers' personal data to cold-calling firms. Phillip Bagnall, who worked at Nationwide Accident Repair Services in Greater Manchester, England, was found to have snaffled up at least 2,700 customers' personal details, which were then used to …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    The consequences can be severe," he said.

    I doubt it. I suspect he made more than he was fined for.

    "Not only can it can lead to a day in court and the attendant media coverage, but it can cost a person their job and can damage their future career prospects."

    If the result is not a criminal record (which it is not - it's just an ICO fine), it will make a difference only if his previous employer is willing to give him a negative reference. Very few are. At most they will decline a reference.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree that the fine is totally inadequate, but this was a statutory court fine, and he will have a criminal record: "The defendant pleaded guilty to unlawfully obtaining data in breach of s55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 when he appeared at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court." However, because he was only fined, the conviction will be "spent" after twelve months, so he won't have to disclose it after the year is up.

      The ICO civil monetary penalties apply to statutory data controllers, and weren't applicable to this scumbag. Whether the company had taken all necessary precautions I can't say, but the appearance is of a rogue employee, with the company acting to track down and report them.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      "if his previous employer is willing to give him a negative reference"

      There's nothing wrong with giving someone a bad reference as long as you're honest.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much do I get?

    I managed to get a ton of spam claims calls after using a repair centre. So where/who/what do I have to go to to get some cash?

    1. sjsmoto

      Re: How much do I get?

      If there was a class action suit you'd get a coupon good for $10 off your next accident repair.

  3. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Flame

    37p/call.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would it not be easy to find out who he sold it to by asking the people that received the calls who they received them from?

    Yet again the company buying leads and passing them on gets away with it as does the person selling the leads. £500 is a joke.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Would it not be easy to find out who he sold it to by asking the people that received the calls who they received them from?

      I really get the impression that the ICO don't try very hard.

      I suppose it is possible that they've done that, and there's an ongoing investigation that they can't talk about....but then again, I suspect William Hill would give me good odds that they are not.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Policy

        Government is on the side of the entrepreneur... always. After all, it's entrepreneurs who pay them. (Not their official salaries, silly, those go for cocktails).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Would it not be easy to find out who he sold it to by asking the people that received the calls who they received them from?"

      You assume the recipient of the call stayed on the line long enough to hear who it was and didn't just yell eff off down the phone at them. And if they did, they wouldn't have remembered the specific combination of the words "accident" "claimline" "lawyers" "national" "EZ" "4u" that made up that particularly company name.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      "Would it not be easy to find out who he sold it to by asking the people that received the calls who they received them from?"

      No. I've tried that. It is a very good way to get them to hang up on you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Fair points. What about writing to all the people concerned to find if one person made a claim? Then you have them bang to rights.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What about writing to all the people concerned to find if one person made a claim?

          Telco logs are another place to start - many dodgy cold callers might be able to spoof the caller ID, few are clever enough to actually disguise their tracks any better.

          Unfortunately, in addition to the fact that the individual probably made more than he was fined, because the ICO (appear to) have ducked out of finding the "customer" companies, they've made it clear that misusing stolen data isn't sufficient of a crime to be worth investigating. And looking at this, if I were a crook using stolen data, I'd tell my informants "if you get caught, we'll pay you triple your fine so long as you refuse to name us". Crooks do learn these things - just as the "shut your company down to avoid the ICO penalty" trick has got around. It doesn't help that the individual could only be fined - a stretch of porridge might have made him more communicative.

        2. 's water music Silver badge
          Trollface

          Fair points. What about writing to all the people concerned to find if one person made a claim? Then you have them bang to rights.

          Shirley ringing them all would be quicker?

      2. Extreme Aged Parent

        I ask them which accident they are on about?

        That generally gets rid of them.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Telco logs are another place to start - many dodgy cold callers might be able to spoof the caller ID, few are clever enough to actually disguise their tracks any better.

          Caller ID (technically called CLIP: Calling Line Identification Presentation) is a number presented by the end user. It's not so much of a case as "spoofing" it, but just supplying something inaccurate.

          Your supplying network knows who's called and from which network: they just pull their billing information which is rather more complete than what you get on a handset.

    4. JassMan Silver badge
      Trollface

      @AC £500 is a joke

      The real joke is the £50 victim surcharge. It should have been £50 to each of the 2724 victims.

      The ICO also needs the power to ensure that for every innocent victim on these lists, that there is a repeating copy of all the details of every director of every company involved in in using said lists.

    5. Jtom

      Yoou are correct. If I were the judge I would hold him in contempt of court until he named names. You don't have a right not to divulge informaton. Just ask the journalists jailed for not revealiing sources.

      1. Just Enough

        right to silence

        "If I were the judge I would hold him in contempt of court until he named names."

        Well you'd be a rotten judge then. A principle of UK justice is the right to silence. You cannot be convicted of anything purely on the basis that you declined to talk.

        Otherwise the courts would be full of trials where people would be told "Own up to what you done, whatever it may be, or we'll have you for contempt."

        1. Annihilator
          Flame

          Re: right to silence

          "Well you'd be a rotten judge then. A principle of UK justice is the right to silence. You cannot be convicted of anything purely on the basis that you declined to talk."

          Unless it's your computer passwords. :-|

  5. Annihilator

    Actual accidents

    The biggest surprise about this story is the cold callers being bothered about whether the person was even in an accident or not. In my experience they just ring you on the off-chance.

    Cold Caller: "Hello, I'm calling about that accident you had recently?"

    Me: "I wasn't in one..."

    CC: "Oh, maybe it was a member of your family?"

    Me: "No..."

    CC: "<desparation>Someone you might know?...</desparation>"

    <click>

    1. Pat Att

      Re: Actual accidents

      I usually tell such callers to go an F- themselves, and be as obnoxious as my whereabouts permits. They might get the idea then that they are genuinely pi$$ing people off with their crappy job, and give it up for a better one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Actual accidents

        usually tell such callers to go an F- themselves,

        Come on, they may enjoy it. I ask them if there is a B&Q nearby so they can go, grab a chainsaw, stuff it where sun does not shine, then take it out and suck on it.

        Generally results in them never ever calling me again (and my daughter hitting me on the head if she is in earshot range).

      2. Jtom

        Re: Actual accidents

        If I don't need to use my phone,, I just say, " hold on, I'll find the person you need to speak too," then set the phone down. I'll check in about an hour to make sure the call was ended. It wastes their time and they do not call back.

      3. Just Enough

        Re: Actual accidents

        "Oh good. My accident was fatal, but I'd like my widow to get compensation. Can you arrange that?"

    2. Handel was a crank

      Re: Actual accidents

      I go with either "which one? I've had so many!" or "you'll be able to tell me my name then". Both of these are generally followed by "sorry to have bothered you" *click*.

      Occasionally I just go with a foul mouthed rant though.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Actual accidents

        The last time I had such a call, I asked which accident they referred to, and explained that I had been in many car crashes. the caller got very excited, and called her supervisor over - thinking she had hit pay dirt. After a rambling confused conversation I finally told the cold callers that I was a stunt car driver, and crashed cars on film for a living...

    3. Blofeld's Cat
      Devil

      Re: Actual accidents

      "... about that accident you had recently ..."

      Would that be the one I can't remember because of the resulting Amnesia?

      1. Bernard M. Orwell
        Trollface

        Re: Actual accidents

        "... about that accident you had recently ..."

        Ways to get cold callers to strike you off their list quickly:

        1. "Oh god, oh god, no. How did you know? I can still hear the screaming, and smell of burning flesh, oh the horror, please no. I don't want to remember! (cue screaming and weeping)"

        2. "This is inspector Roberts of the CID. How did you get this number? What was your relationship to the deceased? How long have you had their details? Where were you at 1900hrs on Saturday evening? Can I take your full name and address to eliminate you from our enquiries. No, don't put the phone down...."

        3. "Have you heard the good news about our lord and savior...? I'd like to read you some passages from our scriptures..."

        4. "Oh! Hi! Its good to hear your voice. I've not talked to anyone in so long. (Pause). What underwear are you wearing today? is it red?......"

    4. unwarranted triumphalism

      Re: Actual accidents

      Bizarre. I had exactly the same call last week.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actual accidents

      I'm wondering if the first statement ends with a question mark is because they were tentatively probing whether you've actually been in an accident, or whether the caller just has that annoying habit of intoning every statement as a question.

      It's difficult to tell. You should have stayed on the line and asked some questions of your own to see if they started every answer with 'So, ...' and ended it with a rising intonation.

      Q. What is your name?

      A. So, my name is Kylie?

      Then you could have told them they are an irritating wazzock on both counts.

  6. gskr

    usually I just put the phone down straight away.

    Sometimes I get them to repeat the company name and then report them to the TPS (yes my phone is registered!)- depends on my mood.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      I often find that demanding they tell me their company name is enough to make them hang up. Then I Google their phone number and, if I find any complaints from others about that number, I report it to the ICO and/or TPS, and then block that number. I've got caller ID and a phone that can block withheld numbers so those NEVER get picked up.

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      "report them to the TPS"

      And then what happens?

  7. wyatt

    I had one a while ago that asked if I had been in an accident in the last two years. I said no, but had been 3 years ago where I lost my legs. They ended the call then called back having 'discussed it with their manager and could help'. Kept them going for a while before telling them I'd found them stuck behind the sofa.

    Lady on the other end of the phone sounded genuinely disappointed that I didn't need help, I suspect it was an Asian call centre and they'd probably been lied to about the reasons for the calls and maybe thought they were really trying to help people. She wouldn't accept my insistence it was a scam, made me happy for a while.

  8. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Wow, a whole £1000?

    Should have been at least £100 for each call, paid directly to each person he inconvenienced. Fuck it, just stick him in stocks and lets throw stuff at him.

  9. adam payne Silver badge

    "The consequences can be severe," he said.

    Not from what i've read.

    £1000 is not a deterrent, he made more selling the details.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nah, pillory. They can't dodge and you can hit them from both ends.

      Bags I that dubious looking marrow!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It works out at a fine of 37p per customer. Not what I call severe either.

  10. Korev Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Well done NARS

    It appears that instead of sweeping the issue under the carpet, NARS investigated the problems and reported the incident. This seems to be a rare response to a data breach these days...

  11. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Please tell me that part of the sentence was in having this idiot's email addresses and facebook and twitter handles sold off to each of the same spamfactories he had made sales to.

  12. unwarranted triumphalism

    Nothing was proved

    Good to see that mere facts are irrelevant once the MUH PRIVUHCY lynch mob is assembed.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      According to the article "Bagnall pleaded guilty". He fessed up.

      1. unwarranted triumphalism

        Because no one has ever confessed under duress, just to make their interrogators leave them alone.

        No, that has never happened. Anyone who confesses must be guilty.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Because no one has ever confessed under duress

          "Good to see that mere facts are irrelevant "

  13. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Meanigless boilerplate from the prosecutor.

    "The consequences can be severe," he said. "Not only can it lead to a day in court and the attendant media coverage, but it can cost a person their job and can damage their future career prospects."

    "Severe"? Really? From where I sit, he got a slap on the wrist and basically told "bad boy, don't do that."

  14. Stu J

    Computer Misuse Act

    Why wasn't he prosecuted (and jailed) under the Computer Misuse Act for unlawfully accessing a computer system for unauthorised purposes (i.e. nicking the data)...?

  15. Christoph Silver badge

    "However, he declined to identify who he had sold the data to"

    "Welcome to the cell you'll be occupying until you name your accomplices."

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Truecaller

    This reminds me of the Truecaller app that was (supposed to) block spam, scam calls but instead was (allegedly) selling off the users entire contact list to advertisers.

    In order to opt-out and cancel your account users had to manually remove each phone number that was in their contact list one by one from the developers website and trust that they were actually removed.from the massive database.

    Users claimed they received more scam/spam calls AFTER they went through the task of deleting than they had before.

    1. Coen Dijkgraaf

      Re: Truecaller

      Possibly a fake version the app?

      As described in this thread.

      https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/truecaller-is-scam-app.2042478/

  17. TheVogon Silver badge

    I have used Truecaller for several years without issue. Blocks almoat all spam calls and tells me who most of the rest are before i answer.

    Truecallers policy says "we would like to state that Truecaller does not sell data, and we follow Google Play and Apple Store policies, meaning we do not upload numbers to make them publicly searchable."

    Most likely you installed a similarly named fake app.

  18. Mr Dogshit

    I misread that

    I thought it said "11k" and thought "Hmm... it's a start I suppose. Should have cut his bollocks off with a rusty spoon though."

  19. M Mouse

    inadequate fine...

    and I wonder whether he was paid with cash in an envelope or whether HMRC could investigate for undisclosed earnings...

    They (HMRC) can make people bankrupt (and do, as I know to my cost, with plucked out of the air figures) and probably have more investigatory powers than ICO against individuals...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No other security software?

    Don't waste time speaking to these low-lifes.

    All my landline incoming calls go to answerphone unless the CLI shows a recognised number, otherwise I eavesdrop and if it's a wanted call, interrupt the answerphone. Peak time for spam calls is 16:00-19:00. Similar for mobile, an app screens calls for known garbage, then I choose: pick-up or leave to voicemail.

    I will promise my vote to any political party that undertakes to drop the pussy-footing around and wipe out these scum.

  21. Torchy

    Lock him up.

    He should have been locked up for an hour for every persons details that he sold on.

    Punishments in the UK are anything but.

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