Barclays employee fined £3k for illegally accessing customer data

ICO calls for tougher measures to deter offenders

A Barclays Bank employee has received a fine of £3,360 for illegally accessing customer data.

Jennifer Addo, 27, was prosecuted under section 55 of the Data Protection Act for 23 offences, including passing on details of a customer's children.

The bank was initially alerted when the customer contacted the bank to report that information taken from his account was passed on to his partner at the time.

Following an investigation launched by Barclays, it was discovered that Addo had illegally accessed the customer's details on 22 occasions, between 10 May 2011 and 8 August 2011.

It is said that Addo had contravened Barclay's staff rules which state that employees should not access customer accounts unless required. She was subsequently fired from her role at the bank as a result of the findings of the investigation.

ICO head of enforcement, Stephen Eckersley, highlighted the risks of data security, despite the efforts of banks, and called for stronger punishments to deter offenders.

"The banking industry has rigorous procedures and safeguards in place to make sure customers' details are kept secure," he said. "However banks rely on the honesty and professionalism of their staff to ensure that the privileged access given to their records is not abused for personal gain."

He added: "This case proves, yet again, why we need a more appropriate penalty for the crime of personal data theft. With the law as it stands, this prosecution isn't even recorded on the police national computer which means that an offender could apply for a job in a high street bank tomorrow and the potential employer wouldn't be informed about the offence.

"The current 'fine only' regime is clearly not deterring people from breaking the law."

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