Carphone & TalkTalk breached Data Protection Act

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has found Carphone Warehouse, and its sister company TalkTalk, in breach of the Data Protection Act after investigating complaints concerning the way in which both organisations processed and stored personal information.

The investigation revealed that Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk had been opening customer accounts in the wrong name and passing inaccurate information on to credit reference agencies and debt collection agencies.

Security failings had also led to customers being able to view other customers' account details online. In addition, the ICO found that the companies had not responded to requests by individuals for information held about them.

Mick Gorrill, Assistant Commissioner at the ICO, said: "The Data Protection Act gives us all important rights, including the right to correct inaccurate information and to find out what information an organisation holds on us. Organisations that process personal information must comply with the Act and, where we find that this is not the case, the ICO will take enforcement action.

Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk’s use of inaccurate and incorrect personal data has caused real damage and distress to customers. We have now ordered them to take the necessary steps to ensure customers’ personal information is sufficiently protected.”

The ICO has now issued Enforcement Notices ordering Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk to improve their data protection practices or face prosecution.

It's understood that the problems stem from earlier in the providers life when TalkTalk's "free" broadband service was just getting off the ground. The ISP has appologised and is working to resolve the ICO's concerns.

Concern over the handling of people’s personal data reached fever pitch last year after the government managed to lose millions of private records. It’s expected that enforcement of the Data Protection Act (DPA) will now become common.

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