Former employees of Enterprise-Rent-A-Car have been sentenced for conspiring to steal customer information that accident claims companies could use to make nuisance calls and sell on as personal injury claims.

Details of tens of thousands of customers from the car hire company were sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds, leading to unlawful contact from ‘ambulance chasers’ making cold calls about personal injury, in a scheme that ran for almost two and a half years.

Andrew Minty, Jamie Leong and Michelle Craddock, who at various times worked for Enterprise in Cardiff or Aldershot, all pleaded guilty at Winchester Crown Court on 4 January to conspiracy to commit offences under the Data Protection Act.

Minty was fined £7,500, which he has to pay within two years or face three months custody. Leong and Craddock, who had less involvement in the conspiracy and had either paid greater amounts of damages or been affected more by previous civil proceedings, were given 12 month conditional discharges but ordered to pay £3,000 and £1,200 in prosecution costs respectively.

As well as this week’s criminal proceedings brought by the Information Commissioner’s Office, Enterprise-Rent-A-Car has previously issued civil proceedings against the defendants. This resulted in the defendants paying the company £400,000 in civil compensation in total between them.

Steve Eckersley, ICO Head of Enforcement, said:

“Car rental companies have details of drivers who have been in a road accident and need to hire a vehicle whilst theirs is out of action. These details are valuable leads to companies which make money from encouraging accident victims to make claims.

“This prosecution was the result of an ICO investigation brought about after Enterprise found out what was happening. These individuals had a long running agreement to abuse the trust placed in them to look after precious personal details. The problem of data thieves trading personal information is very concerning and one we’re cracking down on.”

 A fourth defendant remains wanted on a warrant.

 

Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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:

  • marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
  • cookies (and similar technologies);
  • keeping communications services secure; and
  • customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.

We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.

  1. 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.
  1. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  1. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns/