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Independent garages target of data 'registration' scam

The Vehicle Inspectorate is warning garages to ignore letters sent by rogue companies demanding a £95 fee to hold customers' names and addresses on a computer.

Independent Audi and Volkswagen service specialist Chiswick Auto Service, of West London, alerted AM to the scam after it received a 'final notice' from a firm calling itself Data Protection Agency Services (DPAS), purporting to have been issued on behalf of the VI. DPAS claimed it was a statutory requirement to register database information with a £5000 failure penalty.

Chiswick Auto Services proprietor Sarad Jian says: “The document looks official, but I was suspicious because it was the first I'd heard about having to register with the VI under the Data Protection Act.”.

There is no such requirement for garages and the VI has issued a statement saying Data Protection Agency Services, operating from an accommodation address in Warrington, Cheshire, has been distributing false information.

“This has not been sent on behalf of the VI and the company has no links with the VI,” says a spokesman for the Inspectorate, adding: “The VI does not require garages to comply with notification requirements under the Data Protection Act 1998.

“However, if a garage considers the nature of their business requires them to do so, they should contact the Information Commissioner's helpline at 01625 545740. If you wish to complain about correspondence received from Data Protection Agency Services, contact your local Trading Standards office.”

Independent garages have become the latest trade sector to be targeted by rogue services. The office of Government Information Commissioner Elizabeth France was inundated with complaints from the hotel and catering sectors earlier in the year following similar “final notice” demands.

She warned businesses to watch out for documents from Data Protection Act Registration Service, Data Protection Agency Services Limited, Data Protection Registration Agency, Data Collection Enforcement Agency, Data Registration Agency, DPA Registration Agency, and Data Protection Act Registration Agency.

France says: “Ignore any approach made by these businesses, who appear to be charging up to £95 plus VAT for notification. Other than paying the annual statutory notification fee of £35, on which no VAT is payable, there is no charge made by this office to any data controller wishing to notify.”

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