MISUSE OF PERSONAL DATA AND FRAUD – 14/11/2018

An interesting case came to my attention earlier this week on a public forum on social media, which I thought would be worth covering in a blog as it raises a number of unique issues and concerns across a whole spectrum of legislation.

By way of a brief background, a customer received a phone call about a pre-registered car he was looking to purchase but the conversation digressed to an offer of a brand new car for just £1 extra.  He was confused, but thinking it was a good deal he paid a deposit over the phone and gave his details to secure the finance.

He didn’t hear anything after that to confirm that the finance had been accepted or anything regarding the delivery of the vehicle, except for an odd call from Vauxhall Partners who asked if he qualified for a discount through his workplace.  He replied by saying that he didn’t and when he said ‘no’, they hung up pretty quickly.

The customer went in to the showroom 11 days after paying the deposit because he was sure that they had taken the deposit and sold the car to someone else.  Anyway, it transpired that the car had arrived that day and one of the salesmen let slip that the reason they had managed to get the deal so cheap is because one of their Team Leaders had registered the customer as a family friend with Vauxhall Partners to secure the discount.

Despite the finance being accepted, he hadn’t signed anything yet nor had he seen the car.  His question was, “By using his details to get a discount from Vauxhall Partners, have they breached GDPR regulations?

First of all, it’s clear that the dealership has breached the GDPR Act 2018 by misusing the customer’s personal data to obtain the discount from Vauxhall Partners, which he is aware of and is therefore complicit in the fraud.

I believe that there is also a breach of the Misrepresentation Act 1967 as it’s clear that a misrepresentation has taken place here by the (FCA regulated) salesman stating that the customer is a friend / family member and misusing the personal data to secure the (fraudulent) discount from Vauxhall which amounts to £2,100.

A car is not a regulated product, although any salesmen using finance products to sell vehicles are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) which is a separate and serious matter in itself.

This national chain of garages has a bad reputation for nefarious practices and the customer is wondering if he should proceed as on the face of it he is getting a good deal.

If someone was so casual in illegally using my personal data, I would be wondering what else they are capable of regardless of the substantial discount involved and knowing that what the dealership has done is illegal and carrying on is conspiracy and is punishable.

I simply would not complete the contract knowing that a fraudulent misrepresentation has taken place and I would throw the kitchen sink at anyone misusing my personal data to commit a fraud, even if I stood to benefit from it knowing what the implications are if it came to light on an audit.

Furthermore, you would be locked in to dealing with them for years to come and speaking from bitter experience, that is the last thing you would want as my experience inspired me to write a book about resolving complaints.

I cover HP agreements, contracts and much more in my book complete with templates based on real-life test cases that work now on sale via Amazon as an e-book and paperback priced £2.99 / £7.99.

BBC Radio Scotland have read it and interviewed me as a consumer expert for a five-part consumer programme they are making.  Read a free sample via my website and let me know what you think?

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