Monday, 4 July 2011

Selling our data

The scandal of the DVLA selling details to wheel claming cowboys has rumbled on for years. We just recently have a new story, that even the AA and RAC while complaining publicly about rising insurance costs, have been selling details of road accident victims to ambulance chasing lawyers.

The result of this data trade is that we get bombarded with unwanted phone calls and texts (for those daft enough to tell any commercial organisation their mobile number) for everything from insulation, to solar panels, and have people like the lawyers trying to cash in on our life.

There are also the pure scam calls. I have been getting a steady stream for some time, always callers with Indian accents, usually asking if my computer is working properly, claiming to be associated with Microsoft, and trying to sell a DIY virus-your-own-computer kit to the terminally stupid.

But I have just experienced a whole new angle on the scams. I haven’t been blogging much recently because my emotional energy has been directed towards an elderly family member who has been seriously ill in hospital, and who sadly lost the battle just over a week ago. A few days ago I got what I thought was another of the scam computer calls. Same delay, same clicks on the line, similar Indian accent. Except this time he knew my full name (forename and surname) and was telling me that he wasn’t selling anything, that his company is associated with the UK government, and they can help with financial details following a family bereavement.

Apart from the morality of a scam that targets bereaved relatives it also leaves me with another bad taste. How did they get my full name and phone number and know of the death in the family within a week?

Obviously friends and relatives know but other than the solicitors, the funeral directors and the registrar nobody else does, and as it happens another member of the family did the service arrangements and the registration so those people don’t have my phone number on their record. After careful thought the only people I can think of who did very specifically list my full name and phone number were the  hospital, who had me as next of kin to be contacted over the past weeks.

I would prefer not to think the hospital were passing on such details, but unless anyone can think of an alternative explanation I have to believe they did.


  1. Hi Woodsy , first I am sorry to hear of your loss...
    secondly it can be little surprise that our data is routinely passed on for money by any who may be holding it...what price the census data being 'safe' !

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