An agency that describes itself as London's fastest-growing independent has signed an undertaking to keep customers' personal information secure following a rebuke from the Information Commissioner's Office.
Last December the ICO was informed that a branch of Thamesview Estate Agents was leaving papers containing personal information in the street. The papers were stored in transparent bags and the information was clearly visible to anyone who walked past.
The ICO subsequently warned Thamesview that it must improve its compliance with the Data Protection Act by disposing of the information securely.
But in March this year the ICO was contacted by the original complainant and informed that the branch was still leaving its customers' information in the street.
An ICO investigation concluded that agency staff were not aware that they were acting in breach of the company's own guidance on the secure disposal of confidential waste, and that Thamesview had no contract in place to securely dispose of confidential waste.
Customers of Thamesview Estate Agents will be rightly concerned that their information was left on a street for all to see. The papers visible to the public included copies of customer's passports and details of previous tax payments. This could be all a fraudster would need to steal someone's identity. Despite a previous warning from our office, the company failed to address this issue. This is why we've served the business with an undertaking committing them to improving the way they handle their customers' information according to ICO head of enforcement, Stephen Eckersley.
No one from the agency was able to speak on the subject but an ICO statement says the agency has signed up to an undertaking committing it to make sure all branches keep the personal information of customers secure, to introduce refresher training for all staff by 31 December and to put in place formal contracts for the appropriate destruction or disposal of customers' information.