ID IOTS; EXCLUSIVE Bank Dump on High St. in Fraud Prevention Week INVESTIGATES
Byline: By MICHAEL DUFFY
BANKS are leaving their own customers open to identity fraud by throwing out highly-sensitive personal details with their rubbish.
A Sunday Mirror investigation found hundreds of unshredded documents containing account names, numbers, sort codes and telephone numbers in bin bags outside banks.
Amazingly, this was going on during National Identity Fraud Prevention Week - when banks were urging the nation to be more vigilant.
In one case bags marked Confidential Papers Only were left on the pavement of a busy London street. In Birmingham, a customer's entire file - including his salary, address and banking habits -were in a bin bag. Another bin in Bristol contained dozens of bank documents and copies of customers' passports.
Diane Gaston of the National Consumer Council said: "This is totally irresponsible behaviour by the banks. Identity fraud is a nightmare and it's important this information is properly protected." Even a single document can be used to "clone" a person's identity, yet in less than an hour we found a wealth of unshredded documents when we toured banks in four cities on the same night last week.
Three sacks clearly marked Confidential Waste Paper Only were left on the pavement outside a branch of The Woolwich in South London. It contained personal customer details, loan inquiries and a complete debit card.
In Liverpool a bag dumped outside a branch of Barclays contained statements with full names and addresses, signatures, account numbers and sort codes. Outside a branch of the HSBC in Bristol we found a full customer profile of a 58-year-old woman, a photocopied passport and the deposit details of a group of university students. Among them was 20-year-old Becky Butlin. She said: "It's stupid. Everyone is always telling you how important it is to protect your personal information and the one place you'd hope it's secure just abandons it on the street."
"We've all lost faith in HSBC. How can you trust them with your money if they can't even bin paperwork safely." Bags from NatWest and Lloyds TSB contained no confidential documents.
Identity fraud costs Britain pounds 1.7 billion a year and a quarter of the population has been affected or knows someone who has. Gangs use the stolen identity to get credit, goods and passports, using drug addicts and the homeless to rifle through rubbish looking for the details
A spokesman for Barclays, which owns the Woolwichs said: "We are grateful to you for bringing to our attention what may be a policy breach and we will investigate. An HSBC spokesman said: "We will look into this and see if there has been a breach in security."