Bank apologises after document discovery

A MAJOR high street bank was forced to apologise last night after confidential banking documents - including account numbers and home addresses - were found lying in a street.

A MAJOR high street bank was forced to apologise last night after confidential banking documents - including account numbers and home addresses - were found lying in a street.

The incident was yesterday described as “scandalous” by an elderly customer whose banking details and home telephone number were among the items found in bags of rubbish left outside the Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) branch in Cornhill, Bury St Edmunds, for several hours on Wednesday morning.

The documents - carrying confidential details of customers - were passed to the EADT by a concerned member of the public who feared what might have happened had they been picked up by criminals.

The Home Office claims 100,000 people each year are affected by identity theft to the tune of £17 billion.


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HBOS described the incident as “concerning” and thanked the person who handed the items to the EADT for raising the matters.

A spokesman from the National Crime Squad - which combats hi-tech crimes and fraud - yesterday said the onus was on banks to dispose of confidential details properly.

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Among the items delivered to the EADT were deposit envelopes with the names, addresses, account numbers, deposit amounts and telephone numbers of Halifax Bank of Scotland customers.

Other items included internal staff emails, details of a customer's unsecured loan and notes from an interview with a named customer, which included the customer's address.

The EADT yesterday returned the items to affected customers and HBOS.

One of the affected customers, a woman from Bury whose cheque deposit envelope was among the documents, spoke of her “disgust” at learning her private details were left outside the bank.

Her deposit envelope, which once held a cheque for more than £2,000, carried her account roll number, her telephone number, amount deposited, date of deposit and postcode.

The elderly woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “It is scandalous and I will be asking the bank some questions. These details could have been used by criminals.

“When you put something into the bank you don't expect this. I want answers. I am going into the branch to make merry hell about this, I am not having this.”

A spokesman for HBOS said: “This is quite concerning. I would like to thank the member of the public. These are confidential documents that should have been disposed of in the correct manner.”

Simon Stevens, Suffolk police spokesman, said: “In general terms everybody needs to be aware of the issue of identity theft and we advise people to be vigilant regarding personal and confidential information. These documents should be kept secure and, if it is not needed, it should be shredded.”

The National Crime Squad spokesman added: “Banks should have a pretty tight policy on the disposal of customers' information. The onus is on them, especially given the environment in which they operate.”

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