19th Aug 2014
FONT SIZE: A+ A-
Centrelink privacy breach
Centrelink privacy breach

An official from Centrelink has left behind personal details belonging to 23 clients at a suburban railway station, sparking an investigation by federal privacy authorities.

The information, which included bank account numbers, details of property holdings, superannuation and investments were found by a Queensland Rail worker at Darra station in mid-July. He then contacted one of the people whose details were in the files. The lost documents also contained dates of birth, addresses, relationship details and phones numbers.

It is believed by Centrelink insiders that personal files are now routinely carried around by staff using public transport, after cost-cutting measures saw an end to the practice of using government vehicles to move files.

While the Department of Human Services says the incident is “unacceptable” and is being taken very seriously, it wouldn’t comment on whether or not the remainder of the 23 clients whose information was lost had been contacted. A DHS spokeswoman said, “While the information relating to 23 customers was quickly recovered by the department from a Queensland Rail employee, we do not dismiss the serious nature of the incident.

“Privacy and security of personal customer records is of paramount importance, and any incident of this nature is investigated under well-established privacy processes.

“Department staff deal with tens of thousands of customers every day and these types of incidents are extremely rare.

“However, any incident that places customer privacy at risk is unacceptable.”

Read more at CanberraTimes.com.au

Are you comfortable that your government agency information is safe? Do you think this is a one-off incident? Or do you find it completely unacceptable?





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    ourjeffie
    20th Aug 2014
    10:03am
    This doesn't make sense to me. I find it hard to believe that personal files can be "carried around" by Centrelink staff. I would have thought that all files would be stored on the computer.
    Theo1943
    21st Aug 2014
    10:48am
    On a laptop? then they would leave that somewhere and it would contain files from 10,286 people. Much better. When they visit clients at their homes, they surely need to have some documents with them.
    Witchi-poo
    20th Aug 2014
    10:47am
    Do they still do out of office servicing?
    What happens to the hard copies that are requested by offices? EG proof or ID.
    Supernan
    20th Aug 2014
    11:24am
    We had years of working in Accountancy with Audits & Income tax. Security of Clients information was very important. The Aust Tax Office was also very insistent on privacy of Client details. So it felt really weird to go into Centrelink & hand in details of Bank Ac Numbers, etc to various strangers. We could see how casual they were with files & how easy it would be for breaches of privacy to happen.
    Switch
    20th Aug 2014
    2:19pm
    Why are files being removed from the office and carried around by Centrelink staff. Surely all documents can be scanned and accessed electronically. Besides the risk of being physically lost what about fire etc. I would like to think my file is a bit more secure than appears to be right now.
    hmmm
    20th Aug 2014
    2:30pm
    can they be held liable for any resulting consequences ?
    Julkay
    20th Aug 2014
    8:05pm
    Are they still back in the stone age? Haven't they heard of computers yet?????
    CindyLou
    20th Aug 2014
    11:55pm
    I dont believe this story is accurate or the explanation is correct.
    No government department would allow files to be taken out of the office.
    Pass the Ductape
    21st Aug 2014
    6:33am
    Absolutely, it's unacceptable! Despite the rhetoric from Henk about Centrelink's performance being second to none - maybe he needs to go!
    Rose
    21st Aug 2014
    4:05pm
    I agree with "ourjeffie" .I wished Centrelink were like a bank , where a clerk would not "carry about" clients's money. I have had confusing experiences with Centrelink , where some of the employees where arrogant or rude . I am avoiding to go there unless with a friend to accompany me and be my witness .
    Mitch
    21st Aug 2014
    9:51pm
    Why do they need to be removed from the office at all. if they can't complete something in the course of the day, then it should be completed the next day surely, with the files remaining locked up in the workplace.
    NO ONES PERSONAL DETAILS SHOULD EVER BE LEAVING THE OFFICE, for NO REASON AT ALL, centrelink, do not go to anyone's home anymore, everyone is expected to go to them and wait for at least 5 hours and then get treated like a second class person, unless your a refugee and then you get treated like a king and given a list of where to go for all the handouts. True Aussies who lose their jobs because of the economy and the way big business treat their staff, are told to wait for hours, and then treated like dirt. I have worked all of my adult life and to lose my job was hard enough but centrelink was the pits and I cannot wait to get another job. I for one would rather beg than go there again, thank god for friends who have helped because I will never set foot back there, no matter how bad it gets, I would rather take my own life first.
    Adrianus
    23rd Aug 2014
    8:49am
    That bad eh? mmm.... I am going to try and hang on a little longer. I will try another garage sale. I still have some family heirlooms to sell which could keep me going if I don't have anymore medical expenses. Still waiting for my rainy day money Wayne Swan took out of my bank account. It's been almost 5 months now. Not that it would be enough to get me to retirement age, which is still 20 months away. Trouble is, I am trained for nothing and because I had to start work at age 10, I have not one educational qualification. I made sure my children got professional careers with high incomes. I know they wont see me suffer but like you I am also a proud man. Good luck Mitch!


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles