An undercover investigation by consumer group Which? has revealed that personal and financial information is being bought and sold “on a huge scale.”
The investigation by the consumer watchdog group Which? who posed as a dodgy pension advice company, approached fourteen list brokers gaining easy access to over a half a million names, telephone numbers, and pension details.
No Consumer Consent to Sell Data
According to Which? they were offered data for as little as four pence a record. Many companies were operating illegally.
Only four companies who were contacted by Which? carried out any kind of due diligence or background checks on the company Which? posed as. The data they obtained is often used in unsolicited contact to sell pension products to consumers. Some of the information sold had not been given consent to be so by consumers.
Widespread Irresponsible Behaviour
The group has said that many companies were in breach of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidelines, and that the investigation showed widespread “irresponsible behaviour.”
Which? said they were offered 500,000 details of people aged 50 and over. This included homes, jobs, pensions, and income information.
Pensioners and those approaching retirement were targeted the most.
Money editor at Which? Harry Rose said, ”Our investigation highlights that sensitive personal and financial data is being traded on a huge scale, with unscrupulous companies selling to anyone who comes calling.
“Millions are already pestered by nuisance callers and targeted by scammers. To avoid ending up on a list, never give permission for your data to be shared by third parties and if you are called out of the blue about a financial opportunity, hang up and report it.”
The government said it was going to crackdown on nuisance calls in its Autumn statement. The regulations are set to go live in the spring and could see fines as much as £500,000 levelled on the bosses of companies that make harassing calls to the public.