Clarion Housing cyber attack: Mid Sussex residents concerned about rent and data after incident causes 'extensive' damage

Clarion Housing is aiming to reassure Mid Sussex residents after its IT services were hit by a cyber attack on June 18.

Last month, the housing association called the damage to its systems ‘extensive’, adding that there would be ‘a long period of disruption’ while its infrastructure is rebuilt.

Clarion posted a July 28 update at www.myclarionhousing.com to say it is working with law enforcement agencies and has notified the Regulator of Social Housing, the Housing Ombudsman, the Information Commissioner’s Office and The Financial Conduct Authority.

A spokesperson said: “We are sorry for the disruption caused to residents by the cyber attack and are working hard to get all our systems back up and running.”

Clarion Housing has put an important message online for Sussex residents a recent ‘cyber security incident’

Sue Morton of St Augustine’s Close, Scaynes Hill, said the attack has caused problems for Clarion residents in Mid Sussex and has fuelled fears about rent and data.

Sue, who runs an independent Clarion Tenants Support Group, said some residents’ direct debit payments had not been taken while others had unsuccessfully tried to pay manually.

She added that some residents’ accounts showed in arrears after payment.

“For many of us we understand we have nothing to worry about because our bank statements can prove we have paid but many do not understand that, and they are frightened and anxious about losing their homes,” said Sue.

Clarion responded to this issue in its July 28 update, saying: “Some residents who regularly pay Clarion through Direct Debit will not have had their rent collected since June 22.

“We are sorry for any confusion or inconvenience this will have caused you.”

The housing association said these residents would be contacted by e-mail or letter about alternative options for paying.

“We will not collect any future Clarion Direct Debit payments without contacting you in writing at least 10 days before any payment is taken,” they said.

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Clarion said residents should continue to make payments towards rents, services and arrears.

Sue Morton also said some residents had reported increased spam, scam phone calls and phishing since the cyber attack.

On July 28 Clarion said its Customer Relationship Management system, where most customer information is stored, was not accessed and there was ‘no evidence’ of online account passwords being compromised.

But Clarion said it is still investigating how data stored elsewhere may have been affected.

Sue said she also felt that Clarion had not done enough to keep its older residents updated who may not have internet.

A Clarion spokesperson told the Middy: “We are making calls to our vulnerable residents across Mid Sussex to check on their wellbeing and are making daily calls to update older residents in our LiveSmart schemes to ensure they have access to the support they need.

“Our neighbourhood teams are running drop-in sessions in Clarion communities so that residents can speak to them, and while in the area they are knocking on doors to keep residents updated on the situation and let them know how to get in touch.”

Clarion is also urging Mid Sussex residents to visit www.myclarionhousing.com for updates and information on how to get in touch.