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Information Commissioner's Office - What a wast of space


Fred Bassett
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I've been trying to get SAR details from Lloyds since 24th March. As I expected, they've deliberately prevaricated and messed me about - see my post "Lloyds TSB - Will they play silly buggers?"

 

I'm not surprised by this, but what I was surprised by was the response I got from the Information Commissioner's Office when I made a complaint.

 

I've included it below, together with the responses I made to it (in blue). Does anyone else have a similar experience?

 

16th June 2007

 

Dear Mr xxxxxxxxxxxxxx,

 

Thank your for your reply.

 

I'm not impressed by it, in fact I think it's pathetic.

 

I've put my comments in blue below yours.

 

 

Party Name 14th June 2007

Case Reference Number RFA0164527

Dear Mr Bassett

Complaint to The Information Commissioner’s Office about unfair penalty charges and your subject access request to Lloyds TSB for information held as part of credit card/bank account statements.

Is a subject access request necessary in order to reclaim any unfair penalty charges?

No. Information from credit card/bank statements should not be needed in order to reclaim any unfair penalty charges from a financial institution.

Yes it is - If I don't have the statements to hand, how else am I meant to find out what I've been charged and when?

Following an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) ruling about ‘unfair penalty charges’ relating to credit card accounts, the number of individuals making subject access requests under the Data Protection Act 1998 for information held as part of credit card statements has increased significantly. Although the OFT ruling only relates to credit card accounts a number of individuals are also making subject access requests for information relating to other financial services before attempting to reclaim any penalty charges associated with them. Many financial institutions are struggling to respond to these subject access requests within the 40 calendar days permitted. We are aware of this and are monitoring the situation closely.

'Monitoring the situation closely' is modern-day parlance for 'doing nothing'. The banks make billions of pounds in profits each year - a large chunk of which comes from unfair and unlawful charges. They have the resources and therefore have no excuse for breaking the law. According to your own website, "The ICO has legal powers to ensure that organisations comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act. It is important to note that these powers are focused on ensuring that organisations meet the obligations of the Act." So why are you just sitting back and letting Lloyds Bank act outside the law?

What’s the best way to reclaim penalty charges?

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is the most appropriate organisation to assist you when seeking to settle disputes about unfair penalty charges with Lloyds TSB. The FOS can be contacted on 0845 080 1800 Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm.

The FOS was set up by Parliament as an independent, free service for settling disputes between businesses providing financial services and their customers.

Complaints about unfair penalty charges fall outside the remit of The Information Commissioner’s Office. This is why we are unable to directly assist you in seeking the repayment of these charges.

I haven't asked you to assist me in seeking repayment of these charges I want the data so that somebody else can assist me in this. I don't know how much to claim because Lloyds will not respond to by SAR - this is where I had hoped, forlornly, that you might be able to assist.

What will the Information Commissioner’s Office now do with your complaint about the failed subject access request?

We acknowledge that in pursuing the unfair penalty charges a valid subject access request was made to Lloyds TSB and although the information requested may not be needed to recover any unfair penalty charges, financial institutions are still required to provide it.

From the information you have provided to us it seems unlikely that Lloyds TSB have complied with their obligations under the Data Protection Act on this occasion as they have failed to provide you with the information to which you are entitled.

We will therefore be writing to Lloyds TSB with the details of this complaint. We will ask them to ensure that they provide you with the information you are entitled to as a matter of priority. Furthermore we will ask them to take any steps necessary to ensure their future compliance with the Data Protection Act.

At last! After many paragraphs of waffle, you have finally admitted that Lloyds may not have complied with their legal obligations. I can tell you categorically that they have not complied.

What happens next?

We would now recommend that you contact the FOS if you wish to begin the process of reclaiming any unfair penalty charges. If when we contact Lloyds TSB there is any doubt as to whether they received the subject access request you sent to them we may need to contact you again. However, in most cases, and certainly where you have been able to provide us with proof of postage or receipt for your request, we would not expect to need to contact you again and you should await the receipt of the information to which you are entitled from Lloyds TSB in due course.

Once again, there is no point in contacting the FOS until I know what it is I'm claiming for. This is why I contacted you. I need the data - the essence of my complaint is that Lloyds refuse to send it. Besides, if the FOS is the same kind of toothless tiger as the ICO, what's the point?

If you would like any further clarification having read this letter please contact our Helpline on 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 545745 if you would prefer to call a national rate number.

I'm not going to take you up on this offer thank you. The whole exercise has been a waste of time. I will simply go straight to court next time. Lloyds have sent me a 1" thick bundle of paperwork which I collected today. There are still no details in it relating to transactions and charges. They have no intention of sending me this data and seem quite content to ignore my letters and the very mild slap on the wrist issued by yourselves.. It now looks as if I will have to waste the time of a Court in order to get what I am legally entitled to.

Yours sincerely

Fred Bassett

 

Before you criticise another man you should first walk a mile in his shoes. Then, when you criticise him, you'll be a mile away and he won't have any shoes on.

 

Don't get me confused with somebody knowledgeable by all those green blobs. I got most of them by making people laugh.

 

I am not European, I am English.

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I shall look forward to receiving my responses from them then. I have complained to ICO about CAP 1 and their breaches of the CCA and I have complained on behalf of my daughter about ABBEY for non-compliance of SAR. I complained on 29th May, I only received an acknowledgement this week.

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I had exactly the same with ICO. I sent City a SAR request. After the 40 days I sent them a reminder. They replied saying the £10 fee wasnt enclosed. I sent another cheque. Then they asked for ID even though I have not changed my address in the last 15 years. Then I find out both cheques have been cashed.

 

I wrote to ICO to complain. I said Citi were using delaying tac tics and had claimed not to have received first cheque when indeed they had and also complained about being asked for ID. ICO wrote back saying they were within their rights to ask for ID. I wrote back saying I hadnt changed my address, I sent them a cheque with MY name on it, signed by me (Citi could check my signature against their records). Who else would be sending a cheque in my name (my bank as on record with Citi) and MY signature!!!!!! Surely this was enough proof of ID!

 

ICO wrote back disagreeing. In the end I wrote them a sh***y letter telling them they were a complete waste of space and as far as I was concerned they were aiding the banks in leading their customers a merry dance.

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Once bitten, twice shy Stan. How was Jamaica?

 

Fred

Before you criticise another man you should first walk a mile in his shoes. Then, when you criticise him, you'll be a mile away and he won't have any shoes on.

 

Don't get me confused with somebody knowledgeable by all those green blobs. I got most of them by making people laugh.

 

I am not European, I am English.

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you're right, they're totally useless.

 

i complained in Feb about a DCA unlawfully processing my data at CRAs as they never ever even owned the account (they admit this and state they only manage it). The alleged owner DCA also maintains their own defaults.

 

after sending a acknowledgment letter in Mar the ICO have done nothing. For months they've been saying 'we are still on Jan complaints' and only last week did they say 'we started Feb complaints, so wait your turn'.

 

Meanwhile, DCA says 'tough mate, so what if we did'.

 

Trading Standards also useless. The same DCA has not complied with my s.78 request and are bugging me again, yet nothing is being done.

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you're right, they're totally useless.

 

i complained in Feb about a DCA unlawfully processing my data at CRAs as they never ever even owned the account (they admit this and state they only manage it). The alleged owner DCA also maintains their own defaults.

 

after sending a acknowledgment letter in Mar the Information Commissioners Office have done nothing. For months they've been saying 'we are still on Jan complaints' and only last week did they say 'we started Feb complaints, so wait your turn'.

 

Meanwhile, DCA says 'tough mate, so what if we did'.

 

Trading Standards also useless. The same DCA has not complied with my s.78 request and are bugging me again, yet nothing is being done.

 

tifo,

 

I wonder what view the Courts would take of all this if they knew that the only reason people are using them is because there is no other recourse. The ICO was trying to persuade me not to take the matter to Court but to use the FOS. Well I've got no experience of either but I do know that a Judge will make a decision, even if it's not the one that I want, whereas these 'quango' type bodies just seem to exist to give the people that work in them a nicely salaried job.

 

I doubt that I will bother with the FOS personally.

 

Regards.

 

Fred

Before you criticise another man you should first walk a mile in his shoes. Then, when you criticise him, you'll be a mile away and he won't have any shoes on.

 

Don't get me confused with somebody knowledgeable by all those green blobs. I got most of them by making people laugh.

 

I am not European, I am English.

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i can't take it to the FOS because it's all pre April 2007.

 

but i am about to take the DCA in question to court soon. I've had a final response from the CSA and they say since the DCA has now rectified the problem (no mention of the fact they had no legal right to it in the first place) they cannot do any more to help. They also told me i cannot use any correspondence sent to and received from the CSA in court as they do not get involved in this process. So looks like they're backing their member.

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