1,043 Stoke-on-Trent council tenants’ data breached in email blunder


More than 1,000 council tenants have had their email addresses leaked by a housing repairs company in an accidental data breach.

Unitas, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s maintenance company, sent out an email to customers on Friday morning to tell them that its online repairs portal was unavailable due to an update.

But due to a ‘regrettable addressing error’ the employee who sent the email placed the addresses of all 1,043 recipients in the ‘To’ address box, rather than ‘BCC’ – meaning all the addresses were visible to every person who sent the email.

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A follow-up email was sent nearly eight hours later informing the recipients of the data breach and asking them to delete the original email.



More than 1,000 council tenants have been affected by the data breach
More than 1,000 council tenants have been affected by the data breach

Unitas has apologised for the error and is now investigating how it happened. It is understood that the incident has also been referred the the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The email states: “Due to a regrettable addressing error [the email] contained personal data (your email address) which should not have been distributed.

“Please delete the email and all of its contents.



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“We apologise for the error and can confirm that we are currently investigating the incident.”

While the personal data leaked was limited to email addresses, some contain the full name of tenants. And as email addresses are typically used as log-ins for various websites, tenants could potentially be exposed to hacking attempts.

Jo Lockett, from Longton, was one of the tenants affected by the data breach.

She said: “I’m more annoyed by the fact they sent a second email asking people delete the first email like it was nothing serious, not to mention my email addess has been sent to over a thousand people without my knowledge.”

Opposition Labour group leader Jane Ashworth is calling for the council to review its systems and training to ensure the mistake does not happen again.

She said: “I hope that this breach doesn’t lead to problems for council tenants in terms of their email addresses being used to gain access to their financial and commercial online accounts.

“But the most important thing now is that the council reviews the training and technology around privacy. My gut feeling is this won’t be a case of just scapegoating the poor woman who sent the email.

“This isn’t just a mistake by an individual, it’s a problem with the system – it shouldn’t be possible to do something like this.”

The city council has been approached for a comment.





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