Sunday 18 March 2018

Personal data handed to private investigators by State department 'with just one phone call'

Private investigators, acting on behalf of at least a dozen credit unions, were able to extract confidential information from the Department of Social Protection with just a simple phone call, it has been revealed in an Irish Independent investigation.

Personal data including addresses and job details were handed over from the country’s biggest-spending department after just one phone call from investigators pretending to be State officials.

The investigators did not need to prove who they were; in one case an investigator just gave his Christian name.

As reported yesterday, the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) said that credit unions were not aware that the companies they hired were using illegal tactics.

Following the handover of information, two State department officials who handed over this personal data received just a written warning.

Opinion: State's slipshod care of our personal data is unacceptable 

The officials in question were at the centre of a major investigation by the Data Protection Commissioner which established that details belonging to at least 78 credit union customers were handed over to two private investigators.

Documents obtained by this newspaper today show both officials expressed shock and disgust after being told they had been duped by so-called tracing agents.

Read more: Civil servants say they were 'deceived' by agents 

The department deals with 1.5 million payments per week and possesses a large amount of personal data.

See more in today’s Irish Independent

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