Banks regularly breaching data rules

The UK’s biggest banks are breaching data protection rules with alarming regularity, according to figures obtained by Which? Money. There were 515 complaints lodged with the ICO about possible data protection breaches by eight of Britain’s biggest banks and building societies between August 2009 and August 2010 where the ICO thought it was likely they had broken the rules.

Barclays was the bank with the most suspected breaches with 116 complaints, followed by Lloyds TSB with 114 and Santander with 103. Over half of all complaints arose from firms failing to provide customers with copies of the data held about them properly. Other potential breaches included banks holding inaccurate data about customers, failing to follow security measures and the disclosure of data to third parties. While data-related complaints about other organisations such as local authorities and HM Revenue & Customs are going down, banks and other lenders appear to be getting worse. In 2009, there were 1,163 complaints about financial services firms, up from 1,060 the previous year.

“Banks and building societies hold incredibly sensitive information and the impact on customers can be serious if they mishandle it, from affecting credit ratings to leaving people open to fraud,” says Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd. “Consumers who suffer financial loss or stress as a result of data mismanagement by firms should be entitled to compensation. Regulators need to impose much tougher sanctions on firms who are lax with people’s data as the message clearly isn’t getting through.”

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