Hackney Homes residents reminded to be vigilant to telephone scammers
Hackney Council is reminding residents to remain vigilant to telephone scammers after some Hackney Homes tenants and leaseholders’ details were accidentally made available on a website.
The information could be retrieved from a spreadsheet which was issued by the Council in response to a Freedom of Information request, which was submitted via the website What Do They Know.
The details – which included names, some dates of birth, addresses and some information about rent payments but not bank details – were not visible to a causal viewer of the document, but were cached within it. This means that an earlier version of the document – which contained the sensitive information – was accessible to those with detailed IT knowledge who could potentially manipulate the spreadsheet to reveal the information.
Just 11 people viewed the document before it was removed, but Hackney Homes and the Council has written to the 15,000 people whose details were included in the spreadsheet, to apologise, let them know what happened and to remind them to verify the identity of anyone who contacts and asks them for personal information.
Residents are reminded to:
- Never give your PIN number out over the telephone – your bank or the Council will never ask you for this
- Be suspicious when any caller is asking you for money, especially if they are demanding you pay immediately.
- If you are unsure that someone is who they claim to be, call the organisation they claim to be from using a different telephone or wait for 30 minutes after you have hung up to make sure they line is clear.
- If you are unsure that someone claiming to work for Hackney Council or Hackney Homes is who they say they are, call 020 8356 3330
To protect the details of residents, in future the Council will ensure that all spreadsheets are released as PDFs, to ensure previous versions cannot be viewed.
Hackney Homes and the Council takes data protection very seriously and we’re very sorry that this has happened. As soon as we were made aware, we ensured the information was removed and wrote to those residents whose details were included. We have also taken immediate action to ensure it does not happen again.
Sadly the media is full of stories of people who’ve been scammed by sophisticated scams, so we want to remind residents to be extra careful, especially in the run-up to Christmas, when we’re all busier than usual.
Residents who have questions can contact 020 8356 3330