Information Regulator Sets Sights On Debt Counsellor Leads

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Make Sure You Are PoPI Complaint…or Else

Many debt counselling practices make use of external services that find them leads of people to talk to about debt review or people who have asked to be contacted by a Debt Counsellor with some advice.

Where the consumer has specifically given permission to be contacted this should be perfectly fine. There are however some other practices that may be tempted into contacting people who have not specifically asked for help. They may get information on consumers who are experiencing financial distress from unscrupulous sources.

It is not uncommon for Debt Counsellors (and other companies) to be bombarded by emails from people claiming to sell leads. The question then becomes are they legitimate and did the consumer actually consent?

Who Is Going To Be First?

At a recent media briefing, the Information Regulator team warned that they have (with some help from the NCR and many Debt Counsellors) identified the selling of such data lists (without consumer consent) as an area they are going to target. 

They warned that someone is going to be the first to fall under their magnifying glass. They concluded that section of the briefing with a warning ‘to those that offer to sell these lists and those that buy them, DO NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE THE FIRST EXAMPLE OF THE REGULATOR’S BITE.’

‘We are sending an unequivocal message to players in the credit granting and direct marketing sectors of our economy: this must stop.’

The Regulator also mentioned the recent discussions about how the wording of the Act seems to have skipped mentioning telephone calls and how they intend to soon issue a guidance note (it will be interesting to see if this carries similar weight to a non binding opinion as is often issued by the NCR for the debt review industry or is more binding).

They did however mention that buying such lists (of data about people who have not specifically been contacted and asked if they consent and where the list provider has not specifically given express permission) would be a breach of the Act.