Brian, I’ve got good news about your road traffic accident

SONY DSCEvery day I get a call from someone about either PPI insurance or the recent road traffic accident I’ve had. I have never asked for these calls and I am also registered with the telephone preference service, which should mean that I am opted out of unsolicited sales or marketing calls. Whenever I receive one of these calls, I ask to be taken off their database. Yet the calls keep coming.

The best/worst example depending on your view, was that of a national media provider. A friend, lets call them Brian, had moved house and needed their new media provider to install their media system. I said I could work from Brian’s new house and let the engineer in. Brian gave the media provider my mobile number so they could let me know when they would arrive, or could call me in case there were any problems.

The engineer arrived, installed the system and everything was fine.

Until I started getting calls to my mobile phone asking for Brian.

The national media company called me/Brian monthly for about a year trying to sell me/Brian new products or services. Each time I told them I wasn’t Brian and to take my number off their records. Each time they apologised and said they would. Eventually, about 12 months later, they stopped calling.

Then I started to get calls about a road traffic accident that me/Brian had been involved in and that I/Brian could claim compensation for . Each time I would explain that I wasn’t Brian and they must have bought inaccurate data from a list. Each time I would ask to be removed from their records. Once, the person on the end of the line went quiet, and then took a deep breath and in a small voice enquired, ‘oh well, perhaps you have had a road traffic accident recently?’ I just put the phone down.

I also received calls from a couple of charities asking me/Brian for a donation.

Seven years later I am still getting occasional calls for me/Brian on my mobile from organisations who have bought my incorrect data from the national media company.

Recently there have been investigations into charities selling donors data. The recent FRSB report was highly critical of data sharing by charities, claiming that 70 charities had bought Olive Cooke’s information from a third-party or another charity.

It is right that charities are under scrutiny for how they buy, sell and use their data. However it is not just a problem for charity fundraisers and their supporters. It happens all the time. Any organisation should be under scrutiny about how they buy, sell and use data.

I wonder how much Brian was sold for? Has our personal data become a cheap commodity?

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3 Comments on “Brian, I’ve got good news about your road traffic accident

  1. Good question Lucy.

    Was trying to remember when a national newspaper last ran a five day campaign against commercial PPI callers, which resulted in a front page ‘Victory!’ headline, followed by the Prime Minister congratulating them and committing to introduce legislation…

    No-one should misuse personal data – it is unforgivable whether it is a charity or a for-profit company.

    I’ve got my own growing stash of direct mail pieces from Virgin who for several years have refused to stop mailing me despite written requests, one telephone request, and me sending back several pieces of mail (one with heavy items included) with the demand to be removed from their mailings.

    Wondering which national newspaper will print my photo of the pile? I shan’t hold my breath.

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