A former worker at an accident repair firm who downloaded and sold the personal data of motorists to nuisance callers has been fined.
Phillip Bagnall, 33, of Scotta Road, Eccles, Greater Manchester, was an employee of Nationwide Accident Repair Services Limited (NARS) when he was found to be accessing suspicious volumes of customer data from a laptop at home outside of work hours.
NARS called in cyber security consultants in November 2016 after large numbers of customers began complaining that they were receiving nuisance calls shortly after engaging its services. Initial enquiries led to suspicions that Bagnall was involved and it was decided that his access to the company’s computer systems would be monitored.
During a week that Bagnall’s accesses were monitored, he accessed the data of 2,724 customers without his employer’s consent. Customers whose data was accessed subsequently received unsolicited and at times aggressive marketing calls regarding their accidents and they were asked whether they wanted to pursue legal claims.
NARS reported Bagnall to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). He made ‘no comment’ in a subsequent interview and declined to identify the person he sold the data to.
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. A further charge of unlawfully disclosing data was also admitted and taken into consideration. Bagnall was fined £500 and was also ordered to pay £364 costs and a £50 victim surcharge
ICO Criminal Enforcement Manager Mike Shaw said:
“This case serves as a warning to anyone who thinks they can make some quick and easy money selling people’s personal information.
“The consequences can be severe. 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.”