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Frustration at data blunder

PUBLISHED: 18:04 14 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:38 23 August 2010

APOLOGIES have been issued after a council blunder saw private banking details posted to the wrong address. Andrew Shaw, of Livingston Road, Gravesend, was shocked when Neil Atkinson, who lives in Strood, appeared on his doorstep last Friday holding his

APOLOGIES have been issued after a council blunder saw private banking details posted to the wrong address.

Andrew Shaw, of Livingston Road, Gravesend, was shocked when Neil Atkinson, who lives in Strood, appeared on his doorstep last Friday holding his council tax direct debit form.

The letter, addressed to Mr Atkinson, a former resident in the borough, contained personal details about Mr Shaw's financial situation, address, his banking details including account number, sort-code and branch, his signature and his council tax reference number.

Mr Shaw, 35, said: "It is worrying. When you send these details to an organisation like a council you expect it to be safe. It is terrible as they are breaching the data protection act.

"Thankfully it ended up with someone honest."

Mr Atkinson, also 35, said he had called the council after the mistake and had been told to shred the documents or post them back.

"I couldn't believe it, I just told them I'd take it back myself. If I'd shredded it he never would have got his mail at all."

Under the Data Protection Act, an organisation responsible for people's personal details is obliged to keep them secure at all times.

A spokesperson for the Information Commission Officer (ICO), an independent watchdog on data protection, said: "The ICO takes breaches of individuals' privacy very seriously.

"The ICO encourages organisations to report any serious data security breaches so that the nature of the breach or loss can be considered."

A spokesman for Gravesham Borough Council explained that letters to two customers had been placed in the same envelope.

He also gave assurances the appropriate technical measures are in place to protect against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data from the back office systems and apologies had been sent to both customers.

nick.hitchens@archant.co.uk

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