Data Protection In Spain – NOT!!

data-protection-spainIn Spain they make a lot of noise about data protection, with every website and email having long paragraphs about how they obey the LOPD (data protection law) and companies terrified of being fined for the smallest of errors. So, what happens when you’re on the receiving end of your data being used fraudulently? NOTHING!!

The case: imagine that you’ve rented out your property and the tenants leave suddenly. You call the utilities companies to change the bills back to your name and you find out that they’ve already been changed some weeks previously!

Imagine no further, because that’s exactly what happened to me. The rental agreement of course had my name, NIE number and bank account details so it was absolutely no problem for the former tenant to call the companies and give them my details. What amazes me is that all three companies accepted this without, presumably, questioning the authority of the person to act in my name.

You may think that this isn’t a problem, as it’s what I intended to do anyway. However, Iberdrola then informed me that even though they had my billing details they couldn’t change the contract back to my name over the phone. This resulted in having to take along the deeds of the property along with various other bits and pieces of documentation to certify that I was, indeed, the owner in order to get the contract back in my name.

Taking the issue any further would have involved an incredible amount of time and effort for very small (if any) benefit at the end. And that is, probably, why nothing ever comes of these types of problems. In my case the utilities companies ensure they get their bills paid and I just put it down to another “lesson learned”.

By the way, it’s curious that the Spanish state is so sensitive with private companies and data and yet you can see nearly every day in the public Boletín Oficial del Estado (both the national and regional publications) a list of names and DNI numbers of people for many reasons such as receiving grants, to traffic fines, to having their bank accounts frozen. People who’ve solved their particular “issues” with the authorities then have to go through hell and high water to get their data erased from the Internet.

So, beware who you leave your details with – you never know where they might end up!