Although the disks containing the sensitive information went missing from Cattles offices Birstall office in West Yorkshire way back in November, the clients whose details were on the backup storage – along with details of 18,000 members of its staff – have only been notified this year.
The losses affect two of the organisation’s lending arms, Welcome Finance, who used to specialise in loans for those with a poor credit history before it stopped taking on board new customers in 2009 and Shopacheck, who deal in door-to-door collections for cash advance loans, likewise for people who’ve had no luck in securing loans from the high street.
Door-to-door collection, but no letter for six weeks
Given the nature of Shopacheck’s business – collecting door to door – there can be no excuse for the letters being dated in December but only arriving in 2012 for its 800,000 clients. The other 600,000 Welcome clients have likewise only recently had their notifications that anything has been awry, even though it is reported that investigations began as soon as the tapes were discovered missing.
This apology by The Cattles Group has not prevented the industry watchdogs from starting an investigation into how so many records were lost and, presumably, why the clients have taken so long to be informed.
The letter received by Shopacheck’s customers couldn’t rule out the fact that any of the information may yet turn up in the hands of an entity that would look to use it for identity theft or any other form of misuse, although it did confirm to the customers that had been affected – new sign-ups between the Octobers of 2005-2010 inclusive – that they had seen no evidence yet that the data had been abused in any way, according to their managing director Mark Bardsley, and were taking massive strides to ensure that the missing personal information didn’t show up on any radar, failing them being able to retrieve it.
Payday loans are online and secure
Many instant cash loan sites, unlike the insecure manner expressed here, use secured online payment facilities. Their interests rates may be slightly higher than the 399.7%APR as is quoted by the BBC for the typical repayment rate charged by Shopacheck brand, but what price on security and not having a ‘collection agent’ appear on your doorstep, especially if you are unable to meet the payment? Rather a nasty letter from the bank than someone peering in through the peephole to see if you’re in, one would have thought.
If found guilty of a breach of the Data Protection Act, The Information Commissioner’s Office can impose a fine of up to £500,000; according to their spokesperson, they will investigate the ‘alleged’ breach of the Act and then, and only then, will they decide if there is a course of action to take and what the severity of that action will be.