Address mistake causes data breach

Barron Roberts from Worsley Hall, Wigan, with many council tax forms, detailing sensitive and private information
Barron Roberts from Worsley Hall, Wigan, with many council tax forms, detailing sensitive and private information

AN investigation has been launched after a Wigan resident was sent confidential tax documents due to a civil service mix-up.

Barron Roberts raised the alarm after receiving the bundle containing a dozen forms with personal information relating to borough households through the post this week.

The 27-year-old believes a civil servant has used his address instead of Wigan Council’s, as forms relating to his council tax affairs were included in the pack.

Authorities have now been called and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is taking the apparent data breach “extremely seriously.”

Mr Roberts, of Bramble Grove, Worsley Hall, said he thought the package had been sent to him from officer at Wigan town hall.

He told the Evening Post: “I realised almost straightaway there had been some sort of mistake because as well as my form, there were others relating to other people across Wigan.

“They contain all sorts of personal information that could be used for fraud if they had fallen into the wrong hands. It could have had serious consequences.

“I think because my form was at the top, they’ve copied my address down instead of the council’s.”

The forms appear to have been sent from a DWP office in Hyde, Greater Manchester, via a post handing office in Wolverhampton.

Officers at Wigan Council were the intended recipients and tax office staff are now recovering the documents from dad-of-two Mr Roberts.

The forms contained information such as names, addresses, national insurance numbers and, on a few occasions, previous court judgements relating to council tax issues for a dozen borough residents.

A DWP spokesman said: “We take the security of personal information extremely seriously and are conducting a full investigation into this incident.

“We have contacted Mr Roberts to apologise, and to arrange for the documents to be retrieved immediately.”

Personal data breaches are required by law to be reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Mr Roberts added: “Because it was addressed here we opened it. It was a bit of a shock when I realised.”