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An Post warned by Data Protection Commissioner over customers' bank account details

A bank statement containing financial information was previously requested when signing up for a TV license direct debt.

Image: bank statement via Shutterstock

AN POST IS now warning anyone sending them a bank statement to set up a direct debit to blacken out their transaction details following a brush with the Data Protection Commissioner.

A bank statement is requested when setting up a direct debit to pay for a TV license.

Previously, An Post had stated on their direct debit mandate that the account must also have sufficient funds to pay.

Data protection concerns were raised over the sensitive nature of bank account details such as these.

The Data Protection Commissioner responded that, in principle, there was no issue with this, as it was simply a way of confirming that the information was accurate, as banks no longer accept any responsibility for checking direct debit mandates following SEPA changes.

Remove information

An Post were informed that applicants should be offered the chance to remove ’transaction information or alternatively submit only the portion of the bank statement that contains the required information’.

Applications are now informed when signing up to the direct debit that the balance and financial transactions are not required and should be removed.

The statements are then shredded,  An Post said.

Post Offices Vans Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

It faced further data protection concerns last year when former Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte said An Post was to be given access to cable and satellite subscription data in order to crack down on people who evade payment of the TV licence fee.

Responding to the comments, a spokesperson for television service provider UPC said the company “is not in a position to give An Post access to our cable subscription data because this would contravene our obligations under data protection”.

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The future of the TV license has been under scrutiny recently following suggestions that its successor, the broadcasting charge, has been shelved, potentially until after the next general election.

The new charge was due to be brought to account for more media being assumed online, and not using a television.

However, Minister for Communications Alex White told the Irish Independent earlier this month of plans to bring proposals to Cabinet of how the new levy would be introduced.

“It will not feature in 2015,” he said.

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Nicky Ryan

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