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Prudential Fined $80,000 Over Customer Account Confusion

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Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Prudential Plc was fined 50,000 pounds ($80,000) by the U.K.’s data protection watchdog after mistakenly merging the accounts of two customers leading to the wrong person getting retirement payments.

“This case would be considered farcical were it not for the serious sums of money involved,” Stephen Eckersley, head of enforcement at the Information Commissioner’s Office, said in a statement today on the agency’s website.

Prudential first merged the accounts of the customers, who share the same first name, surname and date of birth, in March 2007 and took more than three years to resolve the issue, the ICO said.

The fine is the first that doesn’t relate to a loss of data, the ICO said, and was levied due to the company’s failure to investigate the mix-up after being alerted by the customers.

“We are very sorry for any distress and inconvenience experienced by the two customers, and we have apologized and compensated them,” London-based Prudential, the U.K. largest insurer by market value, said in a statement. “We regret that this incident occurred and was not resolved more quickly.”

The firm said it changed its administration and training procedures to minimize the chances of the error recurring.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Moshinsky in Brussels at bmoshinsky@bloomberg.net; Kevin Crowley in London at kcrowley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net