Updated at 23.15pm
DETAILS HAVE EMERGED of a data protection breach at Irish Water.
The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has confirmed ten cases whereby a customer of the utility had their bank account details sent to their landlord in error.
One customer of the company, Paul Keogan, who spoke to TheJournal.ie, said he had registered with Irish Water for a direct debit.
Keogan later received a call from his landlord, who told him he’d received a letter from the company, with bank account details attached.
The bank details turned out to belong to Paul.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner said…
“I can confirm that Irish Water reported this matter to this Office under
the Personal Data Security Breach Code of Practice and it was dealt with as
a data security breach.
“This required that (1) affected individuals be notified of the matter, advising them of steps they can take to protect themselves, (2) the actual recipients of the letters be contacted and asked to return the letters to Irish Water and (3) put in place procedures to prevent a repeat of this type of incident.
The statement concludes that:
These requirements have been addressed by Irish Water and on that basis, this Office has concluded its investigation into the matter.
The Office was informed of the ten cases on Wednesday of last week.
We also contacted a spokesperson for Irish Water, who said the company was aware of the situation, and was investigating.
Keogan, who spoke to us shortly after 11am this morning, said he had had no contact from Irish Water over the problem.
He was a “little bit miffed” when informed of the mix-up by his landlord.
But the situation was exacerbated as he tried to phone the utility to address the problem…
I gave up after about an hour.
He also emailed and Tweeted the company to try and resolve the situation, he said, but hadn’t received any response.
“I’m in a very fortunate position in that I trust my landlord,” Keogan said.
“I’m happy that a mistake has been made — but there doesn’t seem to be any methodology to let you get back to them and try and find out how this has happened
It’s the most irritating way of doing business… It’s an absolute shambles.
Keogan, a theatre lighting designer based in Dublin, said he wanted to stress that his landlord was a ‘good guy’ and that he was grateful for the phonecall, which he received at the weekend.
He said he had initially made contact with the utility in order to ensure there weren’t any problems with billing, as he lives in a house that’s split into two units.
“I wanted to make contact to make sure the account was in my name, and to make sure there was no confusion about the people in the other unit.
“I would like to speak to somebody,” he added.
“There seems to be no recourse… There seems to be no way of them getting back in touch or contacting you.”
Reacting to the data breach, Senator Lorraine Higgins said that Irish Water “has failed people”.
“I am fearful of a clear escalation of this problem,” she said.
“It is Irish people who will suffer as a consequence of the company’s failure to detect this problem.
How the company could not have detected this breach of customers’ data had been breached at an earlier stage beggars belief.
Last month, Irish Water apologised to over 6,o00 customers who were sent letters by the company with data relating to other people.
The semi-state company had been investigating the possibility of a data breach after it emerged that letters sent to 6,329 multiple home-owners were wrongly addressed.
Ironically, the letters had asked customers to confirm their personal details, to allow Irish Water to update their customer database before water charges came into force.
The Cabinet met this morning to discuss the series of ongoing controversies at Irish Water, amid increasing speculation that major changes to the board of the company are planned.
However, in brief comment to reporters on his way in to the weekly meeting, Finance Minister Michael Noonan insisted there was “no plan” that he knew of to make significant changes.
Speaking at Leinster House this morning, Fianna Fáil’s environment spokesperson Barry Cowen called for a suspension of water charges while a full review of Irish Water is carried out.
Additional reporting, Dan MacGuill.
First posted at 1pm.