Anger at debt text

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A WIGAN tenant is challenging council chiefs about using his “private” phone number to get in touch.

The Springfield man said was left feeling angry and humiliated this week after receiving a text to his mobile asking if he was facing financial difficulties and would he like to take advantage of a free town hall debt clinic service.

He believes that the authority itself may have breached the terms of the data protection in using the details of his phone number from his tenancy agreement to contact him.

But Wigan and Leigh Housing said that it regularly uses text messages to contact tenants – previously without complaint.

The tenant, who didn’t want to be identified, said: “I was interested to know where they had go my phone number from then I realised it was off my tenancy agreement.

“Surely this is a breach of my privacy and a breach of the data protection laws?

“I am already receiving texts that I don’t want to be receiving trying to talk me into joining legal action for PPI compensation or for no-obligation surveys leading to quotes for double-glazing.

“But I don’t expect the council to start using this method to get in touch, when they could and should be writing to their tenants if they wish to communicate with them.

“I find this very impersonal and very impertinent and, in questioning my home financial situation, very insulting also.

“Now I am concerned that in these financially-straitened times the council are going to be jumping on the band wagon and start hawking tenants’ telephone numbers around so that they can be targeted by those marketing companies prepared to pay for it.”

Director of housing management at Wigan and Leigh Housing, Vicky Bannister, said that tenants were asked to confirm their contact details whenever they phone the organisation.

But this information was never given to third parties.

She added that the scheme had received a “very good” response with more than 50 people booking places on the first day.

Ms Bannister said: “We regularly use text messaging to keep in touch with our tenants. They will receive texts regarding repairs or if we need to speak to them about their rent.

“Recently we have contacted a number of tenants by text about some budget skills training being held at various locations across the borough.

“We have had a very good response with more than 50 people booking places in the first day.