Elaine Edwards reports:
Three large insurance companies have pleaded guilty to illegally using social welfare information on individuals which they obtained through a private investigator.
FBD, Zurich and Travelers Insurance all pleaded guilty to 10 sample charges each after they were prosecuted for breaches of the Data Protection Act.
The prosecutions followed a complaint from the Department of Social Protection in December 2010 after it emerged an official in a regional office had allegedly been providing personal information on individuals to other parties. The Department had noticed an unusual pattern of access to its systems by the official concerned, in conjunction with phone calls from the official to two particular numbers.
Information found at the insurance firms, which the Department of Social Protection subsequently confirmed was from its records, included individuals’ dates of birth, PPS numbers, addresses, employment history and information on claims made from the department.
While the individuals whose personal information was exposed were not named in court, the court heard that in a number of cases the details obtained by the insurance companies also included information on spouses.
In total, the details of about 70-80 individuals are understood to have been accessed. About 15 people were the subjects of the 30 sample charges to which the companies pleaded.
All three companies offered to make donations of €20,000 to charity. They will also pay the Data Protection Commissioner’s legal costs.
Read more on Irish Times.
Would be nice to know how much money the insurance companies saved by using/misusing the information. Is €20,000 more than their costs and savings combined or did they still benefit financially by the illegal action?