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Personal data found dumped in skip 9 January 2013

On Wednesday 9th January 2013, the Data Protection Supervisor was made aware of a skip, situated in a lay-by on Belmont Terrace, Douglas, containing files of client information.

The Supervisor visited the site and found hundreds of client files lying in the open skip. These files were covered in frost and it was evident that the files had been in the skip overnight.

A sample file recovered by the Supervisor contained KYC (Know Your Customer) documentation, including photocopies of the client’s passport and bank statements.

The Supervisor contacted the company, which made prompt arrangements to remove the files and have them securely destroyed that afternoon.

While the Supervisor is pleased with the prompt actions of the company, he is concerned that a company would leave such information lying in a skip overnight in clear contravention of the obligation to dispose of personal data in an appropriately secure manner as required by the seventh data protection principle.

The loss of even basic personal information can result in identity theft and identity fraud.

Identity theft occurs when fraudsters access enough information about someone’s identity (such as their name, date of birth, current or previous addresses) to commit identity fraud. Identity fraud can be described as the use of a stolen identity in criminal activity to obtain goods or services by deception, and can have a direct impact on personal finances, making it difficult to obtain loans, credit cards or a mortgage, until the matter is resolved.

The Supervisor would therefore take this opportunity to remind all data controllers that it is their duty to comply with the data protection principles.

Information and guidance on the seventh data protection principle, and all other aspects of the Data Protection Act, is available on his website.

The Supervisor would like to thank the public for bringing this matter to his attention and would encourage the reporting of any other such incidents.

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