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  1. Not sure if this goes under CRA or Data Protection, please move if required. I am working on an EU complaint with some others about what to me seems a breach of the data protection act or at least article 8 of the human right act regarding privacy rights. I have obtained company documents from a CRA (meant for their clients) that offer customers the opportunity to join what I will call a "club", when they join they agree to provide the data on their customers including monthly payments and an update of their address. In return they get some free access (depending on how much info they share) to CRA system. CRA then use that data to update alerts to debt collectors, information brokers and other clients. My initial concern about this was about PURPOSE, the monthly payments are NOT credit payments, but for a broadband service (with 4 million customers), they even provide this customer information if the client prepays a year upfront. If the purpose of the CRA is about CREDIT then it seems entirely WRONG to pass on this information. If it was an energy company I would have a problem if the client were paying on presentation of the bill but tolerate it if the client added an outstanding bill to a monthly payment system which is in effect credit. My next concern was that the broadband company provided no meaningful way for the customer to opt out of having their data shared, the only reference in the terms provided at the point of sale was that a customer may have an address check. There is a page on their website that says they share your data with CRA, it is very much a take it or leave it comment saying we do this for your own good. If this is taken to it's logical conclusion McDonalds could share that you bought a burger, Petrol stations could share your purchasing location and so on. I think we all should have a reasonable expectation of privacy that when trading with a company as a private individual. I had a chat with a lowly member of staff at the ICO and they suggested that the CRA's are given carte blanche by the ICO and that we have to "account for ourselves", my response was that we do IF we decide to participate in taking credit but not if we do not take credit. They suggested that I might want to complain to the EU commissioners or I could complain to them first but they have a history of not going near CRA's. SHOULD WE BE ENTITLED TO OPT OUT OF THE CREDIT REFERENCE SYSTEM OR AT LEAST CONTROL WHAT IS SHARED? It would seem that Article 8 of the Human Rights Act thinks we should! It talks about a PRIVATE LIFE... The concept of a right to a private life encompasses the importance of personal dignity and AUTONOMY and the interaction a person has with others, both in private or in public. The right to personal autonomy and physical and psychological integrity, respect for private and confidential information, particularly the storing and sharing of such information Respect for privacy when one has a reasonable expectation of privacy and the right to control the dissemination of information about one’s private life. It seems to me there is no autonomy (self-government) afforded to the consumer with regard to the storing and sharing of their information by these credit reference agencies. Especially for those that do not even take credit. I think WHO I TRADE WITH and HOW MUCH I PAY it is a very private thing, especially if I am not given a MEANINGFUL way to opt out and to me that means a tick box where I say “NO YOU MAY NOT SHARE MY DATA WITH ANYONE WITHOUT MY EXPRESS WRITTEN PER OCCASION PERMISSION.” I think this "club" should be totally illegal, it amounts to a data swap. It seems to me that the ICO themselves by not enforcing this are in Breach of Article 8 as well as both the company providing the information and the CRA sharing the information. I would be very grateful for comment from the members of this forum and any advice they may wish to provide.
  2. Hi - my first post here but saddened to read through the threads. I have been charged with benefit fraud despite having mental health issues from PTSD and all the ensuing problems. Heres the thing - the DWP appeared at the door with the police last August and stormed my bedroom even though my Mother told them it would give me panic attacks then the DWP woman proceeded to ransack the room while the police were downstairs with me which I have been told contravenes PACE. I wrote a letter to the office manager and to Lord Fraud, sorry, Freud and was of course blown off Hillsborough style. During interview at police station same DWP woman also accused me of things that could not possibly be true such as my son was never in this country, knowing it would set off a panic attack. Are there human rights? My question is - what recourse do I now have to at least enforce my rights. They think dealing with mentally vulnerable people they can just blast all over us as wr are too weak and I am wanting to show otherwise.
  3. Hi, I hope I am posting in the right place here as I am a total newbee. I need some legal help on where we stand. and what we should now do for the best. I'll try to keep it short but it has been going on for 9 months. I have a disabled friend who lives in a housing association flat with his school age daughter. My friend lives on disability benefits after several bad back operations. They claim housing and council tax benefits. In Dec and Jan his mother was ill. Because he is disabled and his mother lives 200 miles away or so he went to visit her 2-3 times during this period for a couple of weeksish at a time. He arranged for a friend of his to house sit his 16 year old daughter while he was away. When he came home toward the end of january he had a letter saying his housing and CT benefits had been suspended from 18th Jan and he needed to contact them. He did, and was told an unannounced visit had been made while he was away. That a young female who was not his daughter had at the time of the visit, been letting herself into his flat and had said she lived there. My Friend assumed his daughter had just had a friend staying over while he was away. Later it turned out the person was in fact the girlfriend of the person he had asked to housesit. So my friend let the council know. The woman from the council said she didn't believe him, that they wouldn't reinstate his benefit, that in order to have his benefit reinstated he needed to: Fill in a new application detailing his change of circumstances in the any change of circumstances area (there was no change of circumstances, his mother was ill, but nothing about His circumstances had changed ), He needed to be present at another unannounced visit. He had to supply his (sick) mothers address (so they could contact her), his mothers doctors address (which he didn't have), His housesitting friends address (after all this, they were not exactly on the best of terms any more), the housesitters girlfriends address (obviously he doesn't know that) and the address of his ex-wife (to prove his daughter lives with him). My friend refused to supply any addresses. When told they would not be given the addresses the council representative became agressive abusive and threatening. My friend did fill in a new application (exactly the same as his previous one) and agreed to another visit. Tellling them of a planned visit to his mother around the end of March and a holiday in May. To cut a long story short. He put himself under virtual house arrest for the next 6-7 weeks and nothing. They paid a visit on the 29th March and un-suprisingly my friend was at his mothers. However his daugter was in and the visiting team left a card with her. He contacted them on his return and they said they'd visit again sometime within the next 2 weeks. My friend phoned every day to make sure he was not forgotten untill he recieved an automated message saying the offices were now shut for easter....... etc etc etc. Around June my friend asked for my help as he was getting no-where and very stressed by the whole thing. I asked where the paperwork was so I could look at it but the only paperwork he had received was the letter in January telling him his benefit had been suspended and a letter in May saying his benefit had been suspended and backdated to 3rd January, as there had been no contact after a visit. Both saying he needed to contact them. I asked him what visit they were refering to on the letter from May and he said he had no idea. I probably should add, my friend does get confused with dates and the order things happen in quite easily. Which his doctor says is a side effect of his morphine medication. I arranged for us to both go in and see someone from the council, who again said someone would be out within the next 2 weeks. My friend was worried about this after the aggressive way he had been dealt with, and getting confused. I said I would pop round regularly and he could phone me. The visiting team came on the last day of the 2 weeks. About half an hour after I'd arrived to talk over what to try next, and I sat as witness/memory. They wrote out a statement and asked him to sign it, I did not see what it said and he can't really remember. They asked if they could take my name and address incase they needed to contact me in the future. I could see no reason why not, so agreed. 2 weeks later I asked my friend if it was all sorted and he said he still hadn't heard anything. I arranged for us to go back into the council offices and speak to the person who had arranged the visit. The council then ran credit checks on me without my authorisation, These flagged up on my credit report and were e-mailed to me by a well known credit check service. The following day we went to the appointment, the person who had been abusive to my friend decided to also attend the meeting. She took over the meeting. Told us she was the head of the fraud investigation and that my friend was officially under investigation. She then proceeded to try to repeatedly verbally bully my friend, untill in the end I asked her to stop doing it, as I could see him getting distressed and confused. At the end she said she wasn't satisfied he lived at his address and his claim was going to be cancelled from January 3rd but that his new claim would be paid from July 4th. She stated that he would receive the decision in writing along with all documents to do with the investigation, including telephone calls, visits etc. That it would also include details on how he could appeal the decision. I took notes during this meeting as it was the only way we could have anything in writing telling us what they were alleging. I asked them why they were running checks on me and was told they were not. I told them they were, and I wanted to know what right they thought they had to do that. She said she would look into it and write to me. Later I went through their list of events and found several of them that simply were not true. False allegations of visits they had made etc. 3 weeks later still nothing from them at all. This time I wrote to the Ms in charge. telling her in no uncertain terms that I was not happy at all about the way this had been conducted or her conduct throughout this investigation. That the matter had now been going on for too long, and that they had not given my friend the opportunity to defend himself or reply to any accusations, as they had not written to him telling him what he was accused of. I gave her 7 days to bring the matter to an end one way or another, or I would take further actions. I then received a letter from her supervisor saying he was looking into my letter, but it would take him a while. I also received a letter from her, saying they were quite within their rights to run credit checks on me as 'they were done as part of an ongoing investigation' and as such are exempt from the normal rules governing the data protection act ? ? ? So if you know someone who is under investigation, for anything, they can run searches on you, without your agreement, consent or even knowledge ? ? Anyway, I digress. I have since received a letter from the supervisor closing ranks and twisting the truth, sayings things like 'at the interview on'. When there was, and has been no interview/s. There was a meeting that WE had called to try to get some/any information. Going on to say he has seen no evidence of wrongdoing from his staff and listing some of the actions taken by his staff. This second list of actions (which is not the same as the list of actions we were told, and I wrote down at the meeting) is still just not accurate at all, at one point they are saying they visited my friend and that it was only ME that was present at his home, this just simply never happened . It has however finally given us something in writting. Something to enable us to prove they are lying:-). But what do you do with it ? Who do you take it to ? My friend has now been served with notices from the housing association. I advised him to see Citizens A,B. Who told him to go to the local council contact point where he lives. We went there and they said he had to speak to the people we had already dealt with and made us an appointment to go there for this Friday. I am worried about us attending this meeting, as I now understand how my friend feels. I also feel that everything that is said is twisted and that they can claim whatever they feel like claiming, without needing any proof what so ever. I am sure this can't be right, but I can't see any information on what my friends rights in this are. I can find plenty on how to report on, or prosecute on fraud. But nothing telling you what the rights of the accused are. I have found Housing Benefit Regulations etc, but they are not really very clear refering constantly to other acts, cases and legislations. So if I haven't sent you to sleep yet, all help would be soooo gratefully appreciated. Hopefully we can get it sorted and my friend can get his life back, come off of the anti-depressants and start sleeping again. Again Thank you So much for any help or advice you can give.
  4. My council (Edinburgh) is applying to sequestrate me for council tax I don't owe. The disputed sum is big but I have more capital than its value. I have been making a repeated appeal annually, clearly on grounds of error of calculation. By law, anyone charged council tax has an absolute automatic right to do that, and the grounds may be anything the appellant perceives as an error of calculation. This is explicit in all the public information on council tax appeals and in the Local Government Finance Act 1992. It is a matter of simple exact statue law that has so shades of interpretation. The council has no veto over my appeal: if it disagrees with it it must contest it. But the council has for 8 years been ignoring all my appeals and refusing to recognise them, on grounds of claiming that they are - not relevant appeals - It has kept on sending me sheriff officer's letters in pursuit of the appealed sums. I always answered those in full, only to get eventual repetitions of them ignoring my explanations or else arbitrarily stating that the council has said my appeals are not appeals and do not count. Never have they answered my point that the council has no power to do that. Now the council has taken straight to sequestration a dispute that should have gone through a council tax appeal. Its claims that I owe the sum simply ignores my appeals, hence must be based on claiming a power so to so, contrary to all the public info on the appeals system. The council has always known it could dispose of the issue just by contesting one appeal and after that my council tax position would be normal again. It can't be portrayed as reaonsable for the council to pigheadedly refuse to contest an appeal, knowing that and knowing the appeal is being repeated annually, and instead knowingly to let the situation drag on for years. The council must also be wrong, if it thinks it has any case, knowingly to wait while a sum it intended ever to claim mounts up and becomes more intimidating. That is obviously bullying. It has never taken any of the less drastic approaches to enforcement, e.g. bank accounts. I have lodged as my defence, those points on the action's excessiveness, and my documentary record of the years of lodged and ignored appeals, and the Local Government Finance Act and the public info on the right to make appeals. It would be illegal for the court to find against me, for it would abolish the principle that folks should believe published official information on the law, and then there would be no basis to expect me to believe and obey anything the sequestrator said either. I have put that to both the pursuing solicitor and the nominated trustee, as a point that voids the case against me and proves only my case can be right. Neither has yet answered. This needs all the human rights interest it can get. I have mailed to the EHRC about it but it can take a week to know if they will respond. I have mild autism and am actively involved in a services project run by a university that follows how services/public bodies treat folks and has already had an interest in my problem before it came to this point. It also means I should be entitled to advocacy in any dealings with the sequestrators. I already have a reference to contact citizen's advice within the court. My councillor is the Lord Provost and good about keeping his community involvements... My point about all these interested parties and as many others as possible, is so as not to be alone and unseen which would encourage the court to decide against me. In order to establish that a decision against me is illegal, the highest possible number of parties need to have been alerted in advance of the day, and unless their existence deters the wrong decision from happening, they watch it happen. Then they would know instantly that the decision has abolished the believability of any published and written law to rely on as true, and hence that I can't be expected to understand and believe any written law that the sequestrators tell me to cooperate with. That absurdity gets thrown back at the system to prove the decision illegal and unworkable. I think what I'm asking for here is ways to raise interest. Know any sympathetic journalists or organisations who are good at responding and making public fuss about such issues? Can Action Group itself raise some public concern about councils bullying folks like this?
  5. The ECHR in September gave a final decision on a case that has been running through national and European courts for 10 years - Kay v United Kingdom, originally Lambeth Borough v Kay and others. The ECHR was asked to decide whether occupiers of land should have an opportunity to contest possession orders made against them on the ground that such orders were disproportionate, taking into account the personal circumstances of the occupiers. The challenge was made under Article 8 of the Convention. In finding for Kay the court said that "the loss of one's home is the most extreme form of interference with the right to respect for the home. Any person at risk of an interference of this magnitude should in principle be able to have the proportionality of the measure determined by an independent tribunal in light of the relevant principles under Article 8 of the Convention, notwithstanding that, under domestic law, his right to occupation has come to an end." The ECHR concluded that the decision by British courts to strike out the defence meant that the procedural safeguards for the assessment of the proportionality of the interference were not observed. As a result, the applicants were dispossessed of their homes without any possibility to have the proportionality of the measure determined by an independent tribunal. Although this case was to do with Social Housing tenants, the above paragraphs must apply to any claim for possession including those against private tenants and mortgagors. In fact only this week I used it in assisting a friend to appeal a possession and eviction order gained by Northern Rock. There were other grounds and the decision was made without a hearing, so I cannot tell how much weight the judge gave to this particular ground, but it seems to me that this must now become an essential consideration in all possession proceedings.
  6. I want to share with this forum something that I have written for my blog. I hope I can raise awareness and bring together the people who are currently suffering alone with this issue. I wish to tell you about a silent scandal and hope that by the end of this article, you too will feel at least some of the outrage that currently has me in its grip. This issue may only affect a small minority of people but the suffering, mental anguish and loss of quality of life for these individuals cannot be overlooked. Frustratingly, this problem is completely avoidable if only the NHS would listen to the needs of hearing aid users and continue to allow them a choice. You may have heard of campaigns in recent years to provide digital hearing aids to all those who need them and to shorten waiting times, all very laudable I’m sure you agree. The assumption is that digital is always better and for those who find it so it is indeed good news that digital aids are now freely available. Now here is the bit where I reach for my soapbox. Digital aids are NOT suitable for all people with hearing loss. It’s time to speak out against this brave new world which marches forwards in all it’s technological glory as it tramples in the dust the people who need analogue aids. Can you imagine how it feels for someone who has been enjoying a full life, working, socialising and making music to then be told that the hearing aid that enabled all this is no longer to be provided. Online forums are full of heartbreaking tales of the devastating effects of this forced switch to digital. People who can no longer hear their loved ones the way they used to, parents who can no longer hear their children crying. Others who have had to give up their love of music, either playing or listening to. It’s not surprising that depression can be the result when the NHS take away your “ears” and replace them with a pathetic, unsuitable alternative, while at the same time arrogantly claiming that they know best. No doubt the digital aids are technologically outstanding, but this does not always translate into reality. My husband is happy with his old analogue hearing aid. He works full time and in his spare time he plays guitar and sings in a band. Unfortunately his old aid will not last forever and he has been issued with a new digital hearing aid, the result is horrible. We have known for some time that this day would come and it’s hung over him like a death sentence. He tried digital a few years ago and I’d never seen him so miserable. There was no way he could go to work or play music with it. This new digital is no better but he has been told he must get used to it. He’s trying so hard but to be able to work or go to band practice he puts his old aid in. This is not a long term solution. We have hit a brick wall trying to find out where we could buy another analogue hearing aid if the NHS will not provide one. It seems the whole world is going digital and it appears that many manufacturers are no longer making analogue aids now that health services have cancelled the contracts to purchase them. What can be done? Well we need to raise awareness and support the rights of all the people who are battling alone against their audiology departments. It’s easy for an individual to be told that it’s just them that have a problem and they must accept it and get used to it. Let’s not allow this. It would be great to see as many people as possible join a facebook group to put pressure on the NHS. The group will be open to all people who wish to support the human rights of analogue hearing aid users, as well as the users themselves. We need to show them that they are not alone in this fight. So, I have started a group, please join and please be patient with me as I am a novice with the workings of facebook. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=116042521781196 Here are just a few threads so that you can see for yourself that this is not just one isolated case. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/messageboards/F2322274?thread=7661278 http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/messageboards/F2322274?thread=5443347 http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/messageboards/F2322274?thread=7342594 http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/messageboards/F2322274?thread=3661710
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