Issued By
County Council

Protect Your Business

NORTHUMBERLAND County Council’s Trading Standards watchdogs are again warning traders about a scam that has resurfaced from previous months.

The Consumer Helpline continues to be inundated with enquiries from local businesses who have received apparently official letters demanding payment of £95 for compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

Several further companies have jumped on the bandwagon, taking the opportunity to try to profit from recent changes to Data Protection legislation.

The misleading letters give the impression that they come from the Information Commissioner, and that the business receiving them is under a legal obligation to register immediately.

Some companies are even attempting to profit further by collecting fines for breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998. Only the Information Commissioner has the authority to deal with infringements of the Act.

Some businesses processing personal data are required by law to register with the Information Commissioner. The statutory fee for this is only £35. However, some small business that process personal data for limited purposes may not need to register and the Information Commissioner does NOT send out threatening letters demanding payment. The Information Commissioner can be contacted direct on 01625 545 745.

The Office of Fair Trading is looking into these companies.

County Trading Standards Officer Mick King said: “I urge all businesses to be vigilant when checking unexpected invoices and demands for payment. Don’t be misled into making payments to unnecessary intermediaries seeking to profit at the expense of small businesses. Injunctions have been obtained against some individuals behind these companies, but unfortunately "copycat" operations keep springing up.”

Further information is available from:
Nicola Sleightholme, Public Relations Assistant, Northumberland County Council
Tel: 01670 533252
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