Concentrix: Tax credits firm in 'data protection breach'

A US firm used by the government to cut tax credit payments has suffered a data protection breach, it is claimed.

By Peter Whittlesea,
Victoria Derbyshire programme

Facebook campaign group Concentrix Mums believe around 100 claimants have been sent information such as bank statements, self assessment details and National Insurance numbers of others.

A Concentrix spokesperson said: “We treat these allegations seriously and are investigating”.

The firm will not have its contract renewed, HMRC has previously said.

‘Very serious issues’

The claims – made to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme – come the day before the senior vice president of Concentrix, Philip Cassidy, is due to be questioned by the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

The firm was hired to help cut tax credit fraud and overpayment, but has been accused of incorrectly withdrawing tax credits from hundreds of claimants.

Paul Eite, a single father who had his child tax credits stopped, is attending the hearing and said he will raise “very serious data protection issues” that he claims have been uncovered.

“We have got evidence that will show that [Concentrix is] sending… documents back to the wrong people,” he explained.

‘Concentrix wasn’t aware’

One Concentrix claimant, Shanice Manning, has shown the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme evidence of a letter she received that was addressed to a “Mrs Whittaker”.

She said it contained the national insurance number and case number for the claimant.

“Concentrix wasn’t aware it had done that until I rang them and made them aware,” she said.

She added that when she did this, she was referred by the call centre advisor to an American man who “came on the phone and was all like ‘what’s your problem’. That’s all he was saying to me.”

Ms Manning said she then rang HMRC but “I never heard anything more”.

“Then I emailed my MP to tell him, and he looked into it,” she added. Ms Manning said she was then asked to send the letter back to Concentrix, but does not know whether Mrs Whittaker was informed of the situation.

A Concentrix spokesperson said: “The handling of individual claimants’ private information is a strict and rigorous one. We treat these allegations seriously and are investigating.”

HMRC said in a statement: “We take the protection of our customers’ information extremely seriously. We have very robust processes in place to ensure that personal data is properly protected. We look into all allegations reported to us around data security.”

Its chief executive Jon Thompson is due to appear before MPs later this month.