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Prudential cops £50k ICO slap for giving customer's life savings away

Company repeatedly mixed up pair with same name, DOB

Insurance firm Prudential has been slapped with a £50,000 fine for merging the accounts of two customers' accounts with the same name and date of birth and not bothering to fix the situation when the customers complained.

The company merged the two accounts with the same first name, surname and date of birth in March 2007, a mistake which ended up seeing one customer's retirement savings transferred to the other customer's investment firm. The Information Commissioner's Office levied the fine, the first the office has served that doesn't relate to data loss.

Both customers repeatedly told Prudential that there were problems with their accounts such as the wrong address or wrong documents. In fact, both customers tried to change their listed address a number of times, but every time they managed it, the changed address was copied over to the other person's policies.

"This case would be considered farcical were it not for the serious sums of money involved," Stephen Eckersley, ICO. "Two customer files were consistently confused and the company failed to remedy the situation despite being alerted to the problem on more than one occasion before it was finally resolved."

As well as the fine, Prudential is also trying to get the money it transferred over to an investment company, which included the wrong customer's cash, returned. The insurance firm also said that it would be improving staff training and updating its processes. ®

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