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Another Warning Over Misleading Data Protection Letters

Trading Standards Officers from South Tyneside Council have issued a reminder to local law firms about misleading registration claims.

This follows an early warning five months ago after local organisations in South Tyneside received misleading letters claiming they have failed to register under the Data Protection Act and risk a big fine.

The letters, headed 'final notice' claim to be from an organisation called 'Data Protection Agency Services' and have been sent to law firms across the country.

They tell the organisation to send a cheque for £95 'in order to commence registration' with the Information Commissioner, or face a maximum £5,000 fine. The commissioner's office this week stressed that it has no connection to this company, and reminded firms that the statutory annual registration fee they have to pay is just £35.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said it has received 'hundreds' of complaints from businesses targeted by Data Protection Agency Services or other companies with similar names.

A Trading Standards spokesman said: "It is not unlawful in itself to provide a registration or notification service to data controllers, but other than paying the annual fee of £35, there is no charge for businesses wishing to notify for themselves."

The BBC's Watchdog programme also carried out an investigation in September last year, and claimed that 8,000 businesses had been taken in by similar letters.

The OFT advise organisations targeted by these companies should speak to the Information Commissioner's office for clarification, or contact the OFT if they wish to complain.

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