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New Forest District Council contacts the public to report data breach

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New Forest District has revealed the discovery of a data breach which exposed personal data belonging to members of the public.

On 31 August 2018, the Council received a request for a list of all Council Housing. The request sought a list of former Council properties, including those purchased in the Right to Buy Scheme.

The request was submitted to the Council through the website www.whatdotheyknow.com (WDTK). The website assists individuals with making Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and publishes all requests online.

On 10 October 2018, a Council officer responded to the request, believing that they were attaching a spreadsheet that only contained the information the requestor was entitled to.

However, on 5 April 2021 a third party contacted the Council to inform them that the spreadsheet in question contained an additional tab which, when opened, contained a list of properties that had been purchased through the Right to Buy Scheme, and personal data belonging to the individuals who had purchased the properties.

The personal data included in the spreadsheet contained:

  • Full names
  • Property addresses
  • Mobile phone numbers
  • Dates of birth
  • The amount of Right to Buy discount awarded
  • Unique Property Reference Numbers
  • Tenant Reference Numbers

Upon learning about the breach, the Council contacted WDTK to inform them of the issue and requested the spreadsheet to be removed. The individual who originally requested the spreadsheet has also been contacted for them to delete their copy.

The Council has sent letters to members of the public whose personal data was exposed in the breach, apologising for “any concern or distress that this may cause”.

In the letter, the Council also confirmed that it has self-reported the data breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the appropriate measures have been put in place to avoid the same issue from repeating itself.

If New Forest District Council has written to inform you that your personal data was exposed in the data breach, or you have not been contacted but have strong reason to believe this is the case, you may be able to claim compensation.

At Hayes Connor, we are ready to advise anyone who may have been affected by the New Forest District Council data breach. To learn more about how you can start a claim, please get in touch.

What to do if you are worried about the New Forest District Council data breach

If you were one of the individuals whose data was exposed in the New Forest District Council data breach, the council should have already contacted you. However, if you have not been contacted and you believe you may have been affected, you should get in touch with them as soon as possible.

You should be aware that, as the data was widely available for a long period of time, there is a chance that cybercriminals were able to access it and may use it for fraudulent or malicious purposes.

It is important to be extremely vigilant of any emails, phone calls or communication from anyone claiming to be representing New Forest District Council. These could be ‘phishing attacks’ which are designed to extra further information from you.

To minimise the risk of your data being used by cybercriminals, there are a number of steps you can take. To find out more, read our guide to what to do if your data has been stolen in a data breach.

If your data was exposed by New Forest District Council, you should also consider whether you are entitled to compensation. This is something the team at Hayes Connor can help you with.

How Hayes Connor can help you claim compensation for the New Forest District Council data breach

If an organisation holds your personal data, they are legally obliged to keep it secure. If an incident occurs that results in a loss of said data, anyone affected may have grounds to claim compensation.

Hayes Connor has one of the largest teams of dedicated data breach specialists in the country, with a wealth of combined experience in a range of matters. We are therefore well placed to provide expert advice if you believe that your data has been exposed in a breach.

Our team of experts will provide carefully tailored advice that will help you to clarify whether you have grounds to claim compensation, how much you may be entitled to and how the general claims process works.

We want to make sure that anyone affected by a data breach is able to access the compensation they deserve, while also making the process as straightforward and simple as possible.

You can find out more about our expertise and how we handle data breach claims here.

To start a claim, you can use our online clam form.

To speak to a member of our team, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 0330 041 5132.