Anyone tempted to access confidential customer data and then sell it on to make a few quid has been sent a fresh warning that it could not only cost them their job and affect their future career prospects but it is likely to end up with a day in court and a fine, too.
The warning follows the prosecution of Phillip Bagnall of Eccles, Greater Manchester, a former employee of Nationwide Accident Repair Services, who used his position at the company to steal and then sell the personal data of motorists to rogue telemarketers.
NARS called in cyber security consultants in November 2016 after large numbers of customers began complaining that they were receiving nuisance calls shortly after engaging its services. Initial enquiries led to suspicions that Bagnall was involved and it was decided that his access to the company’s computer systems would be monitored.
During a week that Bagnall’s accesses were monitored, he accessed the data of 2,724 customers without his employer’s consent. Customers whose data was accessed subsequently received unsolicited and at times aggressive marketing calls regarding their accidents and they were asked whether they wanted to pursue legal claims.
NARS reported Bagnall to the Information Commissioner’s Office. He made ‘no comment’ in a subsequent interview and declined to identify the person he sold the data to.
The defendant pleaded guilty to unlawfully obtaining data in breach of section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 when he appeared at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court. A further charge of unlawfully disclosing data was also admitted and taken into consideration. Bagnall was fined £500 and was also ordered to pay £364 costs and a £50 victim surcharge.
ICO criminal enforcement manager Mike Shaw said: “This case serves as a warning to anyone who thinks they can make some quick and easy money selling people’s personal information.
“The consequences can be severe. Not only can it can lead to a day in court and the attendant media coverage, but it can cost a person their job and can damage their future career prospects.”
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