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Saturday 19 October 2019

Bank error leads to leaking of sensitive client data

Fergus Black

A BANK has carried out an internal investigation after a blunder meant that details of pension numbers, account and sort codes, were sent out in error to 20 customers, it was revealed last night.

Bank of Ireland Life, an independent company with the Bank of Ireland group, confirmed that a "manual administrative error" had resulted in the financial details being attached to letters sent to 20 of its customers but said no customer names and addresses were included.

"This data sheet included a summary of internal reference numbers, pension account number, current account number, sort code and a direct debit value for the 20 customers involved," the company, which provides life pensions, savings and investment policies, said in a statement.

But it insisted that the mistake did not pose a risk to any customers' accounts and said both the Financial Regulator and Data Protection Commissioner had been notified as a matter of procedure.

The error was revealed after one of the 20 customers contacted the Irish Independent after he received the information in the post.

The customer, a 25-year-old sales manager from Balbriggan, Co Dublin, said that after setting up the life and pensions plan at his Sandyford Industrial estate bank branch almost a year ago, he decided that he wanted to reduce his €750 monthly payments.

But after failing to gain an appointment with a bank official he decided last week to cancel his direct debit payment "to get their attention". The move worked and within a couple of days he received a letter from Bank of Ireland Life saying his bank had advised that his mandate had been cancelled and warning if the direct debit was not returned completed within 30 days, collection of contributions would be suspended.

But he was shocked to discover that the letter also included a sheet detailing the account and sort code numbers of 20 other unnamed account holders which also detailed their monthly direct debit payments -- one of them amounting to more than €3,000.

The customer said he was concerned that if he received details of other account holders, his personal banking details might also be seen by others and he has decided to close his account with the bank.


"I invested with them, I have a savings account with them and I have no loans or mortgage with them but I should be treated a lot better," he added.

In a statement issued to the Irish Independent, Bank of Ireland Life said it had conducted an internal investigation and was satisfied that this was a once-off manual error.

It was also confident that the details contained on the data sheet did not pose a risk to customers.

"Bank of Ireland Life takes customers' account security very seriously and the integrity of its customers' personal details is of the utmost priority for the Bank.

"Bank of Ireland Life is contacting each customer to apologise and explain the error and has also notified their relevant bank," the bank said.

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