A claims management firm that made millions of cold calls has become the first to be fined under new laws.
The Hearing Clinic called people asking whether they wanted to make a claim for noise-induced hearing loss.
Many of those contacted were signed up to the Telephone Preference Service, which states they do not want to receive unsolicited marketing calls.
Following hundreds of complaints, the Claims Management Regulator fined The Hearing Clinic £220,000.
It is the first fine given out since the Government gave the regulator greater powers to clamp down on firms last December. Aside from being able to fine firms up to 20 per cent of their annual turnover, the regulator can also suspend or remove their trading licence.
This is on top of existing powers which include 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.
Claims Management Regulator Kevin Rousell said: “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.”
It is hoped the changes will weed out rogue firms in the industry, with initial data proving positive. A total of 296 claims firms received warnings from the regulator in 2014-15 and 105 had their licences removed, official figures showed.
The total number of companies in the industry has fallen by 300 this year to 1,752, down from a peak of 3,367 in 2011.
How to Avoid Cold Calling
Consumer magazine Which? offers tips on how to avoid most cold callers:
• Register for free with the Telephone Preference Service
• Go ex-directory
• Keep your name off sales call lists
• Screen your phone calls
• Consider using a call-blocking service
• Report offenders to the Information Commissioner’s Office