DCSIMG

Data Commissioner ‘is not pursuing credit unions’

Credit Unions are once again back in the news. Photo. Jimmy Fullam.

Credit Unions are once again back in the news. Photo. Jimmy Fullam.

TWO Kildare credit unions are among twelve reported to be included in an investigation into breaches of the law by the Data Protection Commissioners (DPC).

Athy and Monaserevan credit unions were named by the Irish Independent in a story it did on 15/16 August into how investigators hired by credit unions have been illegally getting information on people from State sources.

The paper quoted informed sources as saying that the credit unions themselves were unaware of the illegal tactics being used.

Athy Credit Union did not commment to the Independent. Monasterevan CU told it there was an investigation by the Data Protection Commssioner and it “co-operated fully in that investigation.”

The newspaper said that the information supplied to agents working for credit unions came from a database known as INFOSYS. It quoted the Department of Social Protection as saying its proceedures were “extremely rigourous.” A spokesperson for the Irish League of Credit Unions said credit unions were unaware that illegal means of data collection were being used. If this was being done with was without the credit unions’ permission or knowledge. Credit unions would not knowling employ any company who use illegal tactics and we certainly do not in any way condone the use of securing information by illict means. We are aware that the Data Commissioner is not pursuing the credit unions in this matter but rather the private investigators indirectly.

It does make the point that if a credit union uses an external agency or investigator to seek assistance in locating or contacting a member, it is very much after all other attempts to establish contact with the member have been exhausted. “If any such external agency is using illegal measures to establish contact details for members, this is an extremely serious matter. We condemn such practices and we will work with the Data Protection Commissioners and any other agency to ensure these issues are highlighted. It is clear that regulatory aspect of this industry requires significant attention.”

The DPC office said it has been investigating a number of private investigators or tracing agents who are suspected of unlawfully accessing personal data “and passing it on to third parties, such as credit unions.” It has started District Court proceedings against some private investigators for breaches of the Data Protection Acts.

 

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