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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019
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Again? Irish Water sends customer's private details to the wrong person

“If I’d made half the mistakes they made today, I’d lose my business…”

Image: Bucket via Shutterstock

Updated at 11.15pm.

A DUBLIN-BASED businessman has accused Irish Water staff of a catalogue of “shocking” errors which led up to his personal information being emailed to the wrong person.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, the businessman, who owns multiple properties in the capital, said:

If I’d made even half the mistakes they made today, I’d lose my business… This is just shocking. I’m livid.

In an email exchange seen by TheJournal.ie, an Irish Water customer in Cork city yesterday requested information regarding his own application.

In response, he was mistakenly sent a message intended for the businessman in question, who has asked not to be named:

swemail Source: TheJournal.ie

Included in that email, further down, was the businessman’s previous email correspondence with Irish Water staff

This included his name, phone number, home address, property application numbers, and email address:

email2 Source: TheJournal.ie

The Irish Water customer who was mistakenly sent the Dublin businessman’s personal data yesterday, quickly informed the intended recipient, as well as Irish Water.

The landlord had been attempting to verify with Irish Water whether all his tenants had registered to pay charges.

I’ve done my part here, but [Irish Water has] done nothing for landlords.

He outlined a number of basic errors made by Irish Water’s customer service – which is outsourced to the Cork-based company Abtran – including the following, particularly ironic detail.

Irish Water had previously claimed in an email that three specific properties were his.

When he pointed out that they were not, and offered the names of those who do own them, he says a customer service agent warned him not to name the property owners, as that would be a breach of their privacy.

The Dublin-based businessman whose details were emailed to the wrong person says he fully intends to bring a formal complaint to the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

However, a statement from Irish Water today claimed an investigation would not be necessary:

Irish Water has been in contact with the two customers to inform them of the error and to apologise.
This happened as a result of human error. Irish Water is currently reviewing the events in detail to determine changes that will be rolled out generally in order to avoid this happening again.
Irish Water has also informed the Data Protection Commission (DPC) who has confirmed that it will not be necessary to investigate further.

Read: 14 reasons why people don’t like and don’t trust Irish Water>

File photo: Irish Water bonus controversy Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

This is only the latest in a series of data breaches by staff at Irish Water.

Last month, TheJournal.ie revealed that 10 customers of the utility had had their bank account details sent to their landlords.

Reacting to those incidents, Environment Minister Alan Kelly said he didn’t expect data breaches to be an issue in the future.

Any breaches that have happened or have accidentally happened, where customers’ information has been given to people when it shouldn’t have, is simply unacceptable.
…I don’t expect that to be an issue that will continue to happen.

Back in September, Irish Water was forced to apologise after sending 6,329 letters to the wrong address, but denied that this was a data breach.

Ironically, the letters had asked customers to verify their personal details.

Read: New scandal: 10 Irish Water customers had their bank details sent to their landlords>

‘No data breach’ says Irish Water, despite sending 6,329 letters to the wrong address>

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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