Author: admin

The Hearing Clinic Fined £220,000

Claims Management Companies are the ones that make most of the cold calls – on behalf of their clients.

The Claims Management Regulator (part of the Ministry of Justice)  licenses firms and individuals to provide claims management services. It also has the power to take action when a regulated claims management business breaks the Conduct of Authorised Persons Rules.

The CMR received hundreds of complaints from recipients of calls from “The Hearing Clinic” about claims for noise induced hearing loss. Many complainants had previously subscribed to the “do not call” Telephone Preference Service, so the calls breached the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

Having investigated, the Regulator imposed a £220,000 fine on Aurangzeb Iqbal, the owner of “The Hearing Clinic” and various other businesses including “Industrial Disease Services,” “Hedging Redress,” and “We Claim 4 U.”

Various conditions were also imposed which applied to all claims management services operated under Mr Iqbal’s Regulator licence.

These included having to inform the Regulator on the 5th of every month of each TPS complaint received over the previous month. Mr Iqbal also has to provide the Regulator with full details of all subcontractors he proposes to appoint, plus an explanation and evidence of how he proposes to monitor these suppliers to ensure their compliance.

In its press release, the Regulator reported that from a peak of 3367 in 2011 the number of claims management companies has now fallen to 1752, with 105 having their licences removed in 2014. Further investigations by the Regulator are apparently ongoing and could lead to more sanctions.

Richard Lloyd, from consumer watchdog Which? said: “Hopefully this is the start of a concerted crackdown by Regulators, using their new powers to send a clear message that nuisance calling won’t be tolerated. This company made millions of unwanted calls so we welcome the Claims Management Regulator baring its teeth.

“The size of this fine should make other firms think twice before bombarding people with cold calls. We also need to see senior executives held personally accountable if their company makes unlawful sales calls.”

To complain to the Regulator, go to  https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/claims-management-regulator

Do Share this post on social media – click on the post title then scroll down to the social media share buttons.

Disney Lawsuit Over Children’s Information

Amanda Rushing is suing The Walt Disney Company, Disney Electronic Content in a class action filed in California federal court.

She claims Disney is collecting personal information of children and tracking online behaviour and this is contrary to the law.

App developers can track children’s behaviour while they play online games with their mobile devices by obtaining critical pieces of data from the mobile devices, including ‘persistent identifiers,’ typically a unique number linked to a specific mobile device. . These persistent identifiers allow APP creators  to detect a child’s activity across multiple APPS and platforms on the internet and across different devices. This information is then sold to various third-parties who sell targeted online advertising.

The lawyer says that this is exactly the kind of practice the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act was enacted to prevent. Under COPPA, app developers and any third-parties working with them can’t legally collect personal information about children who are under the age of 13 without verifiable consent from their parents.

“Disney has failed to safeguard children’s personal information and ensure that third-parties’ collection of data from children is lawful”.

Rushing says her daughter was tracked while using the princess pets app, but the suit claims dozens of other games also track their users, including Club Penguin Island, Star Wars: Puzzle Droids, Frozen Free Fall and Disney Emoji Blitz.

Disney says that they have a robust COPPA compliance program, and maintain strict data collection and use policies for Disney apps created for children and families.

As it turns out, Disney had consulted with three partners to insert advertising-specific software into Disney Princess Palace Pets and some of its other applications. This gathers pieces of data and help advertisers detect a user’s activity via persistent identifiers. These persistent identifiers to track someone across multiple devices and apps with the intention of serving targeted ads.

Given this track record, parents and children might want to think carefully about downloading any of Disney’s apps. – stick to watching the movies instead.

Do enter your email address and click on the subscribe button on top right to keep up to date with new posts.

The Consumer Action Group

www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk

The Consumer Action Group is an online forum which provides free support and advice to anyone with consumer problems.

This covers dealings with banks, credit companies, retail organisations, employment, armed forces – you can see its wide reaching and it’s a huge forum with over 385,000 members and 4.8 million posts.

There’s also a library of information about consumer rights, an out of date blog, an email newsletter, access to webmail, a consumer action group magazine and more.

But really it’s the forum that makes it work and that’s where people can get free advice.

If you’re new to using a forum – basically people pose questions and any other member is free to post answers or comments. You don’t have to post something if you don’t want to – you can simply search and read on anything that interests you about being a consumer.

The site is paid for by donations and by advertising. Most of the adverts are at the top of the pages so once you scroll down they are out of sight.

The forums cover all forms of consumer action from buying to being an employee and there is a community centre with advice on how to stop smoking, technical support for electronic devices, cost cutting tips, weight loss etc.

This is a comprehensive and useful resource generally on being a consumer but especially if you have problems with a supplier’s products or service. Whatever the problem, there is likely to be someone on consumer action group who has been through it before and may be able to help you.

Do enter your email address and click on the subscribe button on top right to keep up to date with new posts.

U.S. Charges 14 Over $147 Million Scam

Federal prosecutors criminally charged 14 defendants with involvement in a $147 million stock manipulation scheme orchestrated in a New York boiler room, which swindled dozens of senior citizens and other investors.

Employees of My Street Research, based in Melville, New York, obtained shares at below-market prices from insiders of five public companies, and conducted wash trades and other manipulative trading to drive prices up, according to  acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde.

My Street Research described itself as providing “unbiased stock research” and “top notch, detailed unbiased research.”

Prosecutors instead describe it as a boiler room operation that used high pressure sales tactics to inflate prices of shares which they or co-conspirators owned in a pump and dump operation – pumping up prices, then dumping stock on clients.

Victims were repeatedly pressured in cold calls and emails to buy shares and sign up for stock tips, and five defendants tried to launder $14.7 million of proceeds from the scheme, which ran from January 2014 to recently.

One such email, for the company Grilled Cheese Truck Inc, said “URGENT!!! MUST WATCH THIS LINK REGARDING THE ‘GRILLED CHEESE TRUCK'” and provided a link to a Fox Business Channel video titled “Soup Nazi Hits the Road with New Food Trucks”.

Prosecutors said the defendants Erik Matz, of Mt. Sinai, New York, and Ronald Hardy, of Port Jefferson, New York, managed the alleged boiler room My Street Research, which was previously called Dacona Financial, Power Traders Press and Trade Masters Co.

Other defendants include cold callers, people involved with stock research, and insiders or marketers affiliated with Grilled Cheese Truck, CES Synergies Inc, Hydrocarb Energy Corp, Intelligent Content Enterprises Inc and National Waste Management Holdings Inc, prosecutors said.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

Warning: As Shown on Shark Tank

Shark Tank Is an American TV series about entrepreneurs pitching their new product or service to a group of very successful business people. If they like it then they may invest their own money in the new company.

It’s a similar format to Dragons Den shown in the UK, which is based on a Japanese show and lots of countries now have their own version.

Shark Tank is a big ratings success and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Structured Reality Program three times. A ninth season is currently being planned.

However, all is not as it seems. The sharks don’t have long to assess the businesses, products and services in front of them and a lot has to be taken on trust.

Many, and possibly a majority, of the deals made on the show are never enacted, due to the investors’ vetting process following the deal, which includes product testing and the examination of the contestants’ personal and business financials. In some cases, the entrepreneurs themselves have backed out of the deal after admitting that they only wanted to appear on the show for the publicity.

Lots of spam and scam emails for products include “As Seen on Shark Tank” and use quotes from the programme.

These may or may not be fake but appearing on Shark Tank really does not prove anything is genuine. Being liked by the Sharks does not prove a product is any good.

Many of the deals made on Shark Tank never happen because due diligence shows up the entrepreneurs either lie about their situation or product or something goes wrong in tying up the deal.

So if you see something advertised as ‘As Seen on Shark Tank” then reach for the salt and certainly do not believe it.

If you’ve enjoyed this post or found it useful then do share – click on the post title then scroll down to the social media share buttons.

The Worst UK Nuisance Callers

The figures are for one week in 2017 and show the huge volumes of nuisance calls happening.

BT has analysed the data from its call protect service, that lets people block nuisance callers, to generate these statistics.

Number Categories Volume Proportion
1 Accident claims 12,211,599 41%
2 Personal details (Scam) 5,439,781 18.50%
3 PPI 1,892,479 6.40%
4 Computer scam 3,593,103 12.60%
5 Debt collection 2,212,713 7.50%
Other 4,131,102 14%
Total 29,480,477