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Data protection complaints up 163%

A WOMAN who was turned down for a loan discovered that her credit record had been marred by a bad debt run up a company completely unrelated to her writes Maria Scott.

The woman had previously lived with her parents, and a County Court had inaccurately registered a debt judgment against their address. This was against a company that she believed was run by her parents' next-door neighbour.

Her complaint was one of nearly 4,600 made to the Data Protection Registrar, Eric Howe, last year - a rise of 163 per cent over the previous year. The Registrar's office polices the use of personal information held on computer. More than 60 per cent of the complaints were connected with credit reference problems. Of the remainder, 8 per cent were about inaccurate data.

One woman was pursued by a television rental company for pounds 200, which she was sure she had paid by direct debit. The money had been taken from her ex-husband's account, apparently because of a bungle that occurred when he switched his account from one bank branch to another. The rental company registered a default, in the woman's name, with a credit reference agency, although it agreed to remove this after the Data Protection Registrar investigated.

A man complained that he had been pursued several times over a period of five years by various tracing agencies for a bank debt that had nothing to do with him. The person who owed the money had the same name, except for one initial.

Complaints to the Data Protection Registrar should be sent to the Registrar's office at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.