Banks warned over customer data disposal

Eleven banks and other financial institutions have been "named and shamed" by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for failing to dispose of customer information properly.

HBOS, Alliance & Leicester, Royal Bank of Scotland, Scarborough Building Society, Clydesdale Bank, Nat West, United National Bank, Barclays Bank, Co-operative Bank, HFC Bank, Nationwide Building Society and The Post Office were all found to have left personal information of customers in dustbins outside their premises.

The ICO also found that the government's Immigration Advisory Service agency had also disposed of personal details in similar circumstances.

The Information Commissioner has now made these organisations sign a pledge to comply with the principles of the Data Protection Act. Failure to meet the conditions of the undertaking is likely to lead to further enforcement action by the ICO and could result in prosecution by the Office, it said in a statement.

"It is unacceptable for banks and other organisations to carelessly discard their customers' information," said Deputy Commissioner David Smith. "It is vital that banks and other organisations take security seriously."

Smith added that if these organisations don't tighten up on these security lapses, not only will they risk further action from the Information Commissioner "but also risk losing the trust of their customers."

"Individuals must feel confident that banks and other organisations are safeguarding their personal information," said Smith.

The ICO gathered evidence of banks' wrongdoings from information supplied by BBC's Watchdog programme, Sunday Mail and consumer group, ScamsDirect.

As reported by IT PRO, the Nationwide Building Society was recently fined nearly 1m after a laptop containing bank account details was stolen from an employee.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.