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data protection are you hiding behind this?????

lindasnell
Newbie
Posts: 2
Registered: 26-08-2010

data protection are you hiding behind this?????

I am not a customer of plusnet but my mother is - let me explain....my mother is over 80, her phone has been out of order for over a week now which is obviously causing concern to her family as she lives alone, the last update she had from plusnet was that it would be fixed this afternoon so she waited in until 6.30 before popping to the supermarket just in case there was a need to go into her house - guess what it has not been fixed!  So I rang plusnet to find out when mothers phone would be repaired (the fault is not with her equipment) but I could not be told as that would be divulging details of her account and would therefore be a breach of date protection - heavens above I don't want to know her account details just when her phone will be operational again however - and this is the worrying part - plusnet advise me to obtain my mothers log in name and password so I can then give them that and they will tell me when her phone will be fixed - HOW MANY TIMES ARE WE TOLD NEVER TO REVEAL OUR PASSWORDS TO OTHER PEOPLEHuh? but plusnet say I must do this so they do not breach data protection.  So let me get this right plusnet can tell me "details of someone else's account" so long as I ahve their log in name and password even if plusnet know I am not that person - is this right is? this data protection . My mother like many older people is neither particularly computer literate or happy to use a mobile phone and therefore is isolated, to make it worse the phone rings so other peole think she is just not answering and might be ill. Angry Angry   
9 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,100
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: data protection are you hiding behind this?????

That is very worrying about the username / password and something that I would not expect Plusnet to suggest. I hope the person who said that was in error.
David_W
Rising Star
Posts: 2,297
Thanks: 30
Registered: 19-07-2007

Re: data protection are you hiding behind this?????

PlusNet will *never* ask for your password, they ask for the first 2 letters which allows you to give out your "password" in that manner.  PlusNet though cannot pick and choose which parts of the DPA they ignore, they have a legal obligation to protect a users data and, no offence, but if someone called up PN and said they were calling on my behalf and PN gave them information about my account without verifying the persons credentials, I would be pretty annoyed.
It may seem like a small thing just asking for an update, but I think the account (and all information about the account) is locked until the caller correctly identifies themselves.
But no, you don't need the password, just the first 2 letters of the password (and the user name too).
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: data protection are you hiding behind this?????

sorry it not always the first two, they can ask for the second and last etc.
lindasnell
Newbie
Posts: 2
Registered: 26-08-2010

Re: data protection are you hiding behind this?????

thanks for the comments the point wasn't that Pn asked for some info on password but that they wanted me to get it from my mother.  the other point is - since when has a repair to a line/service been details of an account?
David_W
Rising Star
Posts: 2,297
Thanks: 30
Registered: 19-07-2007

Re: data protection are you hiding behind this?????

I don't know how the PN system works but I imagine you call up and the CS rep asks for the user name so they can access the account information, inside the account information is the details of the repair which the rep needs to access, so because the rep needs to access the account information they need to be sure they are talking to the correct person.
I'm not sure but maybe PN will allow you to set up an allowed person type of thing, where your mother asks PN to allow you access to the account so you can call on her behalf using your own password maybe?
Lurker
Grafter
Posts: 1,867
Registered: 23-10-2008

Re: data protection are you hiding behind this?????

Theoretically you only need to be able to demonstrate that PN can discuss the details with you.
Your Mother's contract with PN does state that they will discuss her account with anybody they reasonably believe they are authorised to do so with.
The grey area is being able to demonstrate that you are authorised - the default mechanism being your knowledge of username and password.
The reality is that PN should have been able to ascertain in some other way that 1: You weren't really asking for anything too 'personal', and 2: You had reasonable reason to be asking.
I know I've been given details in the past (Including having a password confirmed to me once via MSN when I couldn't recall it on more than one occasion)
The reality is that the person at PN knows well enough that I was authorised to get those details because my our long relationship with the company and person in particular.
There has to be a tipping point somewhere where somebody could make the correct 'grey' decision rather than relying on the traditional black/white test result.
Not applicable

Re: data protection are you hiding behind this?????

I am with the OP on this and cannot for the life me understand why a simple enquiry about when the telephone line is going to be fixed breaches the DPA.  She was not asking for any personal information.  Companies are always quoting this Act but they've probably not read it!
Anyway, FWIW I have two observations to make - firstly, as a matter of trust I can't see any reason why a daughter should not have her mother's login details.  This sounds quite a sensible course of action to me.  My referrals are more than happy for me to have their passwords 'cos I set them up and if any problems arise it's me they come to.
Secondly, perhaps customers could nominate someone who will then have permission to deal with their account.  If there was a space somewhere in the member centre for a named person's details to be recorded, surely this would be legal?  I recall having something like this a few years ago with some company or other.
Anyway, just a few thoughts...............
Lurker
Grafter
Posts: 1,867
Registered: 23-10-2008

Re: data protection are you hiding behind this?????

Also the OP clearly knew the Name and Address of the account holder.
And knew that the account is for broadband *and* home phone.
And knew that the phone line was not working.
And knew that there was an open ticket on the account.
And knew that a fix was due in a specific timeframe.
And knew that the fix had not been effective.
But did not know the username or password.
Computer Says NO - seems a little off really, especially as has been said, they weren't asking for any personal info either. Sad
Mand
Grafter
Posts: 5,560
Thanks: 1
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: data protection are you hiding behind this?????

You don't necessarily need the password for verification, if you knew other information, such as payment details.
Alternatively a note could be added to the account if your mother requested that you dealt with the account on her behalf, this would resolve the issue.