With the constant risk of fraud, investigating claims is a priority for many insurance firms. However, a recent case has shown how this can lead to a breach of data protection legislation and criminal sanctions.
Kent-based loss adjustors, Woodgate and Clark Ltd (“W&C”) used two private investigators who unlawfully obtained personal financial information, including bank transactions. W&C then disclosed this information to an insurer client. The two private investigators, a director and a senior loss adjustor of W&C and W&C itself were all recently found guilty at Maidstone Crown Court of unlawfully obtaining and disclosing personal data. Sentencing is due on 5 January 2018.
Although there are some exemptions allowing private investigators to obtain personal information for legal proceedings or as part of criminal investigations, these are narrowly defined. The ICO have stated that this case is part of a wider investigation started in 2013 after the Serious Organised Crime Agency handed it a list of “blue chip” firms who were clients of rogue private investigators.
The case is a warning to organisations that if you are offered personal data you should consider how it has been obtained, as the consequences of processing and using personal data illegally obtained can be severe.