January 17, 2016
Carphone Warehouse and its landline company, TalkTalk, have been warned by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that they could face prosecution for failing to safeguard their customers’ data.
The ICO launched an investigation after receiving hundreds of complaints from TalkTalk customers. It found that up to 4,000 accounts were opened in the wrong name, giving customers online access to other customers’ personal information and emails.
Incorrect information was also being given to credit reference agencies and debt collection agencies. This led to mobile phone, broadband, landline and other customers with both companies being unable to take out loans or mortgages because of incorrect credit records.
Some customers even received visits from bailiffs wishing to recover debts that didn’t belong to them.
The ICO has issued an Enforcement Notice against the companies which gives them 35 days to bring their data-protection and compliance systems up to standard.
Failing to comply with such a notice is a criminal offence and is subject to an unlimited fine.
The problems started over 18 months ago, when there was significant interest in the introduction of TalkTalk’s free broadband offer.
Carphone Warehouse has apologised for the problems and has taken steps to resolve them and ensure it is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act.