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?

Written by Debbie McTaggart