Guides & articles Compensation for when a letter has been sent to the wrong address

Peter Hammond I am a solicitor who has specialised in data breach compensation claims.
White letter envelope

A letter being sent to the wrong address might at first seem like a small inconvenience, but depending on the information it contains, can sometimes result in a serious breach of your data. If your privacy or information has been leaked in this way, you might be able to make a claim for compensation

It can be a common type of data breach, more so than you might think. We can put you in contact with experts in this complex and niche area of law to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Can you get compensation for a letter being sent to the wrong address?

If a letter is sent to the incorrect address and personal details about you are contained within the letter or attached to it, this is an example of a data breach, and you could be eligible for compensation. Victims of this type of breach can be eligible to receive damages for emotional distress as it can be stressful and worrying to have lost control over your personal information, especially if it is of a particularly sensitive nature. 

Examples for what might be the reason for the letter being sent to the wrong address include:

  •       Human error where a mistake on the letter has led to the leak, like putting in the wrong address or using an old address
  •       More than one letter being linked together in the same single envelope
  •       The wrong attachment(s) being sent with the letter
  •       IT/system errors where letters have been sent to the wrong address or a previous address

How can this type of breach become serious?

If you have experienced an incident where a letter has been sent to the wrong address, don’t ignore it. These cases can be serious, and several factors can be considered when compensation amounts are being assessed. Factors that might lead to the breach becoming serious are:

  •       Where the leaked personal information is highly personal and sensitive
  •       Where the letter has been sent to someone who might use it with malicious intentions, like a former partner or an estranged relative
  •       Where the data ends up in the hands of someone who had previously abused the victim

In some of the most serious data breaches of this nature, simple mistakes have meant data has ended up in the hands of abusive ex-partners. This includes situations where victims have changed their names and gone to great lengths to not be found, and all of that has been undone leaving them in a potentially vulnerable and dangerous position.

When data related to healthcare has been leaked via a letter going to the wrong address, it becomes a medical data breach compensation case, which can also have negative repercussions. Medical details are often viewed as the most personal and sensitive type of data there is.

A recent example: shielding letters

In a recent example of this form of data breach, 13,000 letters for people who are vulnerable to coronavirus were sent to the wrong recipients in Wales. The letters contained information and advice for people with serious underlying health conditions and so could have caused a lot of undue stress and worry to the people who received the letters as well as the intended recipients.

This error meant that 13,000 out of 80,000 letters were sent to wrong addresses, such as to the recipient’s last previous address. It was described as a ‘potentially disastrous mistake which could have needlessly endangered lives’ and is a key example of how a simple incident of a letter going to the wrong address is a breach of data protection and can impact anyone and have significant consequences in the lives of the victims.

Contact us today if you think your data has been breached or your confidential information has been sent to the wrong address. 

 

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