CREDIT Unions hired private investigators who used illegal tactics to obtain confidential details belonging to unsuspecting customers across the country, an Irish Independent investigation has revealed.
The investigators, also known as tracing agents, have used false identities to elicit private data from a number of State bodies, including the Department of Social Protection.
The information, which includes addresses and social welfare details, is then provided to credit unions in return for lucrative fees. But department officials who handed out the personal information insist that they were “duped” by the private investigators.
The scandal, which is the latest to rock the credit unions, is now the subject of a major probe by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.
Prosecutions are expected to follow which could result in hefty fines for the private detective firms in question.
An Irish Independent investigation can reveal that the names of 468 credit union customers have been crosschecked by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner with the Department of Social Protection in recent months amid fears their personal information was breached.
Following a lengthy internal probe in the Department, it was confirmed that personal data belonging to 78 customers were provided to private investigators who gave false identities.
For the full story, read today's Irish Independent