How To Claim For A Wrong Postal Address Data Breach

By Jo McKenzie. Last Updated 28th June 2023. Can you imagine the problems that could arise if a letter containing personal information was sent to the wrong address? As you’ll learn in this article, you could make a wrong postal address data breach claim if you suffer psychologically or financially as a result of such a mistake.

Examples of postal data breaches include where your bank sends statements to the wrong person, the local authority sends a rent arrears demand to an incorrect recipient or, in a case we’ll look at later, where the Welsh NHS sent important medical advice to the wrong recipients.

To find out if you have a valid data breach claim, why not let us help? Our advisors can review your case on a no-obligation basis and you’ll receive free legal advice about your options.

If your case appears to be strong enough, we could connect you with a data breach lawyer from our panel. They have the experience and skills necessary to present a clear and concise case on your behalf. What’s more, they offer a No Win No Fee service for all accepted claims.

If you are ready to begin a wrong postal address data breach claim today, why not call us on 0800 408 7825? To learn more before calling, please continue reading.

wrong postal address data breach

Wrong postal address data breach guide

How many people are affected by data breaches?

To give you some idea about how common wrong postal address data breach incidents are, we’ve provided a graph based on data from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The rules of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 mean that all notifiable data breaches must now be reported to the ICO.

Wrong postal address data breach statistics graph

These figures relate to some non-cyber security breaches reported to the ICO for the period 1st July 2021 to 30th September 2021. In total, there were 192 reports relating to data being posted (or faxed) to the wrong recipient.

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Is Sending A Letter To The Wrong Postal Address A Data Breach?

Sending a letter to the wrong postal address is likely to constitute a data breach if it contains any information that could be used to identify you and the party that sent it out had been given your correct address. However, to be eligible to make a wrong postal address data breach claim, you’ll need to demonstrate that:

  • The breach occurred; and
  • You were harmed financially or psychologically as a result; and
  • The breach happened because of an organisation’s positive wrongful conduct.

As you can imagine, proving all of the above can be quite hard. For that reason, we would always advise that you take on legal representation if you do decide to claim.

Our panel of data breach solicitors offers No Win No Fee services for any claim they take on. That means you’ll benefit because of their legal expertise but won’t have to stress about the financial risks involved with funding a solicitor’s services.

Importantly, like other claims (workplace accidents; slips and falls; car accidents; etc), there are time limits for wrong postal address data breach claims. This can be either a 1-year or 6-year limitation period. Therefore, we’d advise you to act swiftly. To check how long you have to claim, please use live chat or call our advisors.

How Do Wrong Postal Address Data Breaches Happen?

Let’s take a look at how personal information can end up being sent to the wrong postal address.

Using The Wrong Postal Address

First, and most obviously, where an organisation has the wrong address for you, your letter will be sent to the wrong address. If you didn’t update your address with the organisation, they wouldn’t be at fault for sending the letter to the wrong address.

However, you may have updated them with your address. This could lead to a compensation claim if you suffer.

One of the principles of the UK GDPR is that personal data is kept up to date. Therefore, if a company hasn’t updated its records, despite you informing them of a change of address, and a data breach then occurs that impacts you negatively, you could make a claim. This could also be the case if the wrong address is stored because of a typing error or an IT problem.

Sending Multiple Letters To The Wrong Addresses

When an organisation is contacted by somebody to say they are receiving somebody else’s post, they should act. This might involve calling the intended recipient to ask for their new address. If they don’t, and letters keep getting sent to the wrong person, a data breach may have occurred.

Sending Multiple Peoples’ Letters In A Single Envelope

Another example is where one letter intended for one recipient is put into someone else’s envelope alongside someone else’s letter. This causes more than one letter containing personal information to be sent out to a single recipient without a lawful reason. This might be caused by human error or because an automated process has gone wrong.

My Letter Was Sent To The Wrong Address – Do I Need Evidence To Claim?

If you meet the eligibility criteria to make a personal data breach claim after your personal information was sent to the wrong delivery address, you will need to provide evidence to support your case.

Some examples of the evidence that could help support your claim include:

  • Proof that your personal data was breached. This could be a letter or email from the organisation responsible, stating that your personal data was sent in a letter to the wrong address.
  • Any correspondence between yourself and the organisation responsible regarding the data breach.
  • You could report the data breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). They are an independent body that upholds data protection laws. The ICO may decide to investigate the breach, and their findings could be used as evidence in your claim. However, you must do this within 3 months of your last meaningful communication with the organisation responsible, regarding the breach.
  • Proof that you suffered mental harm, such as a copy of your medical records stating your diagnosis.
  • Proof that you suffered financial losses, such as a copy of your bank or credit card statements.

If you contact our advisors, they will be happy to talk to you about the evidence that could support your claim. They may also connect you with a solicitor on our panel if you have a valid case.

The NHS Shielding Letter Data Breach

As mentioned at the start of this article, the Welsh NHS has been involved in a wrong postal address data breach recently. Reports suggest that around 13,000 letters were sent to the wrong address.

The letter intended to tell some of the most vulnerable patients in Wales to shield themselves during the Covid-19 pandemic. As well as being a data breach, the impact of not receiving the letter could have been potentially disastrous.

As a result, the Welsh NHS referred itself to the ICO.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-52283236

Type Of Damages You Could Claim After A Postal Data Breach

The ICO advice on claiming compensation explains that you could claim for two damages if you’ve been harmed by a wrong postal address data breach. They are:

  • Material damage. This covers any financial harm that you suffer because of the data breach. For example, if your bank sends letters to the wrong address, your details could be used illegally and you could lose money as a result.
  • Non-material damage. This part of the claim focuses on any distress, anxiety or other mental harm.

Importantly, claims need to focus on any harm you’ve already suffered plus any that might occur in the future. To help establish this, a medical assessment will be needed during the claims process if you’re claiming for psychological suffering. If an independent medical expert suggests you’ll suffer from anxiety, for example, in the future, this will need to be factored into your claim.

Our panel of solicitors understands the claims process in detail. If your claim is accepted, they’ll work with you to get a full understanding of how you’ve suffered. To find out if you could claim for a wrong postal address data breach, please get in touch today.

Wrong Postal Address Data Breach Damages Calculator

When the Court of Appeal heard the case of Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc [2015], they moved away from previous rulings. It held that compensation for mental harm caused by a data breach can be claimed for regardless of whether the claimant has also lost money or not. Previously, this was not the case.

Separately, in the case of Gulati & Others v MGN Limited [2015], the Court ordered that settlement amounts for psychiatric injuries should be determined in the same way as in personal injury claims.

Possible compensation figures are listed in the Judicial College Guidelines. Legal professionals use these guidelines when valuing injuries. Therefore, we’ve used the same figures in our compensation table below.

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Condition Severity Settlement Bracket Extra Guidance
Psychiatric Damage – General Severe (a) £54,830 to £115,730 The claimant will have serious problems and be affected badly by the following factors: coping with life and work; managing relationships; treatment is unlikely to help; being vulnerable in the future. There will be a very poor prognosis.
Moderately Severe (b) £19,070 to £54,830 There will be a more optimistic prognosis but the claimant will have experienced many of the symptoms listed above.
Moderate (c) £5,860 to £19,070 A good amount of recovery will have occurred but the claimant will have suffered significantly.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Severe (a) £59,860 to £100,670 Permanent symptoms with no possibility of work or returning to previous way of life.
Moderately Severe (b) £23,150 to £59,860 Significant problems but, with professional help, the claimant should see some recovery.
Moderate (c) £8,180 to £23,150 Mostly, the claimant will have recovered. Some symptoms may persist though.

If you can’t see your injuries in the compensation table above, why not get in touch? Our advisors give free, informed estimates.

Can I Have A No Win No Fee Agreement For My Data Breach Claim?

In the UK, a letter address may be considered personal information. If you suffer financially or psychologically after a letter is sent to the wrong address, you could potentially make a claim. If you choose to hire legal help to claim for a letter being delivered to the wrong address, a solicitor could potentially offer you a No Win No Fee agreement as a way to fund their services.

In this type of agreement, you only pay a success fee to your solicitor if the claim is successful. That success fee has a legal cap to protect claimants from losing a large percentage of their payout to a solicitor.

Note that if your claim is unsuccessful, you don’t have to pay a penny to your data breach solicitor. That is the primary benefit of a No Win No Fee or Conditional Fee agreement.

Call us for more information today – our advisors offer free legal advice and could potentially connect you with a solicitor from our panel.

Talk To An Expert

Are you ready to begin a wrong postal address data breach claim? If so, why not contact us by:

  • Calling our advisors on 0800 408 7825?
  • Using our contact form to arrange a call from an advisor?
  • Connecting with an advisor in live chat?

Where Could You Find Out More?

In this final section of our guide on wrong postal address data breach claims, we have listed some more useful resources for you.

ICO Complaints – Information on when to contact the ICO about a data breach.

About Anxiety – Information relating to the types of anxiety that people suffer from.

Mental Health – NHS advice on what support is available for mental health conditions.

Read More About Data Breach Claims

We also have some other guides you may find useful:

Thanks for reading our guide about wrong postal address data breach claims.

Article by RA 

Publisher UI