ICO fines Welcome Financial Services £150,000
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has imposed a civil monetary penalty (CMP) of £150,000 on the consumer lender, Welcome Financial Services Limited (WFSL), after the loss of more than half a million customers’ details.
The penalty was issued after WFSL’s Shopacheck business lost two back up tapes which contained the names, addresses and telephone numbers of their customers in November last year. The tapes have never been recovered but there is also no evidence they have been illegally accessed.
This latest penalty means that, since being given the power to issue CMPs from 6 April 2010, the ICO has issued 21 penalty notices, bringing the total value of the penalties issued by the ICO to over £2 million.
“It’s a case of ‘wake up and smell the CMP,” said Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham as he warned that organisations are learning the hard way about the consequences of mishandling people’s information.
Graham commented: “Over the past year the ICO has bared its teeth and has taken effective action to punish organisations many of which have shown a cavalier attitude to looking after people’s personal information.
“This year we have seen some truly shocking examples, with sensitive personal information, including health records and court documents, being lost or misplaced, causing considerable distress to those concerned.
“This is not acceptable and this penalty shows just how much information can be lost if organisations don’t keep people’s details secure.
“We hope these penalties send a clear message to both the public and private sectors that they cannot afford to fail when it comes to handling people’s data correctly.”
WFSL was the principal subsidiary of Cattles, a subprime lender. The firm is no longer taking applications for new loans, is insolvent and has been declared in default.
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has stepped in as WFSL’s is unable, or likely to be unable, to pay claims against it in relation to the selling of payment protection insurance (PPI). Consumers can apply to the FSCS for compensation for losses relating to PPI sold on or after 14 January 2005.
A copy of the monetary penalty issued to WFSL can be found here.