Intelligence sharing agreement between the IFB and the ICO to tackle data theft and misuse
10 December 2015
An agreement between the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to share intelligence about the misuse of public data for insurance fraud purposes has been officially signed this month.
Recent ‘crash for cash’ figures published on 16 November 2015 by the IFB revealed that IFB’s continuing crackdown on staged car accidents has led to some fraudsters changing tack and moving into other lines of organised fraud. This includes bogus personal injury claims fuelled by practices such as ‘claims farming’ and ‘data vishing’.
The IFB is working together with insurers and the ICO to monitor these types of fraudulent activities and are tracking and collating evidence where data misuse for insurance fraud purposes has occurred, or where misuse may lead to fraud. This includes investigating where fraudsters attempt to trick people into releasing valuable personal data. The ICO is also enforcing against those responsible for nuisance calls and spam messages that bombard individuals, some of which may go on to make exaggerated/unmerited compensation claims.
Recently the ICO issued a £200,000 fine to Swansea-based Help Direct UK Ltd for sending out thousands of unsolicited spam text messages, many about potential accidents and injury claims.
The Claims Management Regulator (CMR) also recently issued a £850,000 fine to a company based in Lancashire, which trades as an Industrial Hearing Clinic or Central Compensation Office, for making millions of cold calls to people about noise induced hearing loss.
These examples demonstrate how seriously the issue is being addressed and fines like these are becoming more common.
Stephen Dalton, Head of Intelligence at the IFB, said: “We know that organised insurance fraud is changing and fraudsters are moving into other types of scams which include practices like ‘claims farming’ and ‘data vishing’. We as an industry recognise that more needs to be done to combat these activities, which has led to the IFB working more closely with the ICO in recent months to tackle this increasing problem.
“Over the last six months the IFB has been meeting regularly with the ICO to share data and intelligence to identify fraudsters. This new agreement will formalise that existing arrangement and strengthen the excellent partnership that the IFB and ICO have been building over the last six months.
“Intelligence Sharing Agreements (ISA) form part of IFB’s long term approach to working with key partners and organisations to share data and disrupt organised cross-industry insurance fraud and we hope to sign more agreements in the future with other key organisations and regulators.”
Steve Eckersley, Head of Enforcement at the ICO, said: “We welcome the work the IFB has been doing to share intelligence with us and this agreement should further strengthen our partnership. As the UK’s independent regulator we take action against companies who try and market services illegally via nuisance calls and texts and we can issue large fines where necessary. We are also concerned about the unlawful trade in personal data, particularly the data that finds its way into the hands of criminals. During our investigations we often see problems beyond our area of regulation. This agreement and others like it enable us to pass on information for organisations to take further action.”
The ICO is the UK organisation responsible for the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), enforcing against nuisance calls and messages as well as the Data Protection Act (DPA), upholding information rights in the public interest to protect people’s privacy. This puts the ICO in a unique position to work together with the IFB to identify fraud rings that are using personal data illegally.
The Claims Management Regulator is part of the Ministry of Justice and works to protect and promote the interests of consumers and the public. The CMR ensures firms, which offer a service for people hoping to claim compensation, comply with conditions of their authorisation and are regulated. Find out more about the CMR.
If you have any information about insurance scams, or have any suspicions about the activities of others, call Cheatline (powered by Crimestoppers) on 0800 422 0421 or report online at www.insurancefraudbureau.org.
If you have a concern about how your data is being used report it to the ICO helpline on 0303 123 1113 or visit www.ico.org.uk/concerns.