Regulation  

CMC subject to adviser MOJ complaint gets £70,000 fine

Claims management firm EMC Advisory Services Ltd (Emcas) has received a £70,000 fine from the Information Commissioner’s Office for making “hundreds” of nuisance calls, after it ignored a warning issued last year.

The company was responsible for 630 complaints to the commissioner and the Telephone Preference Service between 1 March 2013 and 28 February 2014, according to a decision published on the ICO website at the beginning of October.

According to the decision, Emcas used two third-party companies to make calls on their behalf to identify payment protection insurance claims. However, the company failed to make sure that people registered with TPS, or who had previously asked not to be contacted, were not called.

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The fine follows a warning last year from both the commissioner and TPS, which told the CMC that under the electronic marketing regulations, they were responsible for ensuring third parties making calls on their behalf were not contacting those who had opted out of marketing calls.

However, complaints continued from people receiving nuisance calls from either Emcas or the other companies acting on its behalf

The company is separately being investigated by the Claims Management Regulator, part of the Ministry of Justice, under regulation 35 of the Compensation (Claims Management Services) Regulations 2006, which refers to complaints or suspicions of unprofessional conduct.

In October last year, Newcastle-based IFA Lowes Financial Management reported Emcas to the Ministry of Justice, alleging that it has received a number of complaints that are “without foundation and built on a premise of fabrication”.

Lowes compliance director Neil Mclachlan told FTAdviser the firm had received eight complaints in the past 12 months.

Mr Mclachlan said at the time that the firm had refused to formally record the latest of the complaints relating to two clients that were invested in an Isa in 2004, on the basis that the claim was “exaggerated” and “without foundation” and the clients have since confirmed that they did not wish to make a complaint at all.

Emcas is disputing the complaint and the investigation is ongoing. Emcas said at the time that while it could not comment on the specific allegations in the case due to data protection rules, it would not pursue claims unless there was “reasonable ground to do so”.

Previously, Emcas dropped a claim against another adviser, after his clients reported the CMC to the MoJ, following coverage of the story by FTAdviser.

The latest fine takes the value of the penalties served by the ICO on companies making live nuisance calls to over £500,000 as it continues to tackle the problem.

A spokesperson for Emcas said: “Following the Information Commissioner’s Office fine in October for TPS breaches, we have been anticipating notification from the Claims Management Regulator that they would be following up with their own investigation.

“This is standard practice and is designed to ensure that our regulator is satisfied that we are now fully compliant.

The statement continued: “Since the ICO findings were first brought to our attention in February, we have made significant changes to our business to ensure that we only contact people who have explicitly consented to receive such communication. Unlike many of our competitors, we maintain this commitment and do not undertake any cold calling or text message marketing of any kind.