Issued By
Cumbria County Council

DATA PROTECTION ALERT

Over 300 businesses throughout Cumbria have been sent letters effectively demanding £95 to comply with the Data Protection Act. The letters headed “Final Notice” tell the company to send a completed form and £95. The letter goes on to say that failure to register is a criminal offence, attracting a fine up to £5000.

While most businesses processing personal data are required by law to notify the Information Commissioner, many small businesses that process such data for limited purposes are exempt from notification. Businesses can notify the Information Commissioner directly for a fee of only £35.

Phil Ashcroft, Head of Cumbria Trading Standards, said “This letter looks official and is threatening in tone. My advice is not to pay without first checking with the Data Protection Register. If registration is required, do it direct and not via the sender of these letters”.

Notes for Editors:

1. To find out if a company is required to notify under the Data Protection Act 1998, go to
www.dpr.gov.uk or telephone their hotline 01625 545740.

2. The Information Commissioner warns of 15 companies posing as “collectors on behalf of data protection” on the Data Protection website www.dpr.gov.uk

3. The Office of Fair Trading has obtained High Court injunctions against four defendants to stop them issuing misleading advertising for data protection notification services - go to www.oft.gov.uk

4. Cumbria Trading Standards have been contacted by 305 companies, concerned at receiving this letter. Thousands of businesses throughout the country have received these letters.

5. The Data Protection Act 1998 came into force on 1/3 /00. It sets rules for processing information and applies to some paper records as well as those held on computer.

6. For more information about this press release contact Patrick Thomas on 01539 773591 or Phil Ashcroft on 01539 773586 at Cumbria Trading Standards.