After all the news footage we’ve reviewed recently, I was not really shocked to see a BBC news story expressing concern about several British banks which have apparently failed to secure confidential customer information. The difference in this story which caught my eye was that this time, the problems had nothing to do with computer security.
This time the story related to confidential written customer account information found easily accessible outside banks in trash bins. Rather than finding customer information through bank computers, BBC investigators routinely found customer account numbers and other sensitive information inside bank trash bins. The BBC news story indicated that the British Bankers Association has a standard practice of disposing confidential information securely using special trash disposal teams whose job requires shredding important sensitive paper documents. However, reporters apparently were able to rummage through trash bins and routinely found sensitive account number and other personal information at such respected banks as the Royal Bank of Scotland, Halifax and others. As if we do not have enough concerns about how to protect our identity. Identity theft criminals now apparently have access to a treasure trove of information not by hacking into corporate computers, but instead by hanging out at bank dumpsters.
Hopefully by reporting this story, banks all over will take notice and make sure to enforce policies requiring banks to shred discarded customer information. Next time you leave a deposit slip, withdraw slip or any other piece of paper inside a bank, ask how they plan to dispose of it. Make sure you feel comfortable knowing that the bank has a policy to shred non-regulatory or compliance documents to protect customers from risks of identity theft. If the bank does not have a document shredding policy or if you have the slightest doubt that your banker will protect information, do not take unnecessary risks! Switch banks!