Information Commissioner's Office investigates reports of charities selling data
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is investigating claims that charities have negligently passed on individuals’ personal information, resulting in it landing in the hands of rogue firms responsible for scams.
The investigation launched after reports that the personal details of an 87-year-old man suffering from dementia were passed on up to 200 times resulting him being overwhelmed with requests for money.
Samuel Rae is believed to have lost £35,000 after his information ended up in the hands of scammers. His details were passed on after he failed to tick a box stating that he did not want his personal details shared when completing a survey.
Rae, a former army colonel, was contacted up to 730 times by charities asking for money. The pressure continued five years after he asked them to stop with some requesting money up to 38 times in a year.
Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said the findings were "clearly concerning" and illustrated “not only a disregard for the law, but also a disconnect with the supporters whose generosity they rely on."
The incident is the most recent in a series of damming reports of charities bombarding individuals with high numbers of cold calls and direct mail. Charities have maintained that telemarketing is random however the case of 92 year-old Bristol pensioner, Olive Cooke, suggests otherwise and has led to calls for charities to be better regulated.
In July, Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to crack down on the “unacceptable conduct" of some charity fundraisers. Charities are now required to draw up written agreements to help protect vulnerable people from aggressive fundraising tactics.