Prudential Hit With Fine for Mixing Customer Accounts

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The UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) yesterday announced that Prudential has been fined £50,000 for merging two customer accounts by mistake.

"The accounts in question were mistakenly merged back in 2007 because the customers shared the same first name, surname and date of birth," writes Softpedia's Eduard Kovacs. "As a result, tens of thousands of pounds erroneously ended up in the wrong retirement account."

"Both customers repeatedly told Prudential that there were problems with their accounts such as the wrong address or wrong documents," writes The Register's Brid-Aine Parnell. "In fact, both customers tried to change their listed address a number of times, but every time they managed it, the changed address was copied over to the other person's policies."

"The fine is notable as not only is it one of the rarer occasions when the private sector has been fined by the ICO but it relates to data handling practices, rather than data loss -- the usual cause of hefty fines from the data watchdog," writes V3.co.uk's Dan Worth.

"While data losses may make the headlines, most people will contact our office about inaccuracies and other issues relating to the misuse of their information," ICO head of enforcement Stephen Eckersley said in a statement. "Inaccurate information on a customer’s record, particularly when the record relates to an individual’s financial affairs, can have a significant impact on someone’s life. We hope this penalty sends a message to all organisations, but particularly those in the financial sector, that adequate checks must be in place to ensure people’s records are accurate."

"Last year the public made more complaints about the way money lenders were handling their information than for any other sector, with almost 15 percent of the close to 13,000 complaints received by the ICO in the last fiscal year relating to financial services," writes IT Pro's Lindsay Vormack. "Prudential has now improved the training it provides to its staff and updated its processes to ensure the accuracy of customers' records is maintained at all times, the ICO said."

"'We are very sorry for any distress and inconvenience experienced by the two customers, and we have apologised and compensated them. We regret that this incident occurred and was not resolved more quickly,' a spokesperson for Prudential said," writes TechWeekEurope's Tom Brewster.