UK data watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has criticised the Student Loans Company for playing fast and loose with its customers' information due to shoddy use of scanners to upload sensitive data.
The ICO has uncovered a number of lapses at the loans company, which included the sending of medical details and psychological assessments, to the wrong people.
The ICO can fine companies over this kind of misdemeanour, but has decided not to hit the Student Loans Company with a financial penalty.
"For the majority of students, the Student Loans Company represents a crucial service that they rely on to fund their studies," said ICO head of enforcement Stephen Eckersley.
"Students are obliged to provide personal information to the loans company, both while they receive the loan and in the years when they are paying it back, and they are right to expect that information to be properly looked after.
"Our investigation showed that wasn't happening. We've spoken with the company and made clear that changes need to be made, and a formal undertaking is now in place."
The ICO's report into the Student Loans Company's security lapses said there were "not enough checks" carried out when documents were scanned into customer accounts, and added that "more sensitive documents" received even less attention.
It said that staff at the Student Loans Company have been advised of their data protection responsibilities.
A spokesperson for the SLC told V3 that it accepted the ICO's finding and was working to improve its handling of sensitive data.
"When we realised our mistake, we immediately contacted the person or organisation the information had been sent to, to apologise for our mistake and to make sure the details were deleted," they said.
“SLC takes our responsibilities seriously to protect customer data under the Data Protection Act. We have put in place additional quality checks and are confident these will prevent this from happening again.
"We are also investing significantly in new technology and systems to improve our service to customers."
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