Fraud fears as blundering High Street bank sends out 35,000 statements to the WRONG customers


  • Names and account details revealed
  • We're embarrassed by glitch say Santander
  • Group facing massive fine for data leak

Troubled High Street banking giant Santander has sent statements for up to 35,000 customers to the wrong addresses.

A printing glitch led to customers being sent the first page of their own bank statement but pages two and three of another customer's.

The paperwork included names, current account numbers and details of transactions they had carried out.

Apology: The banking giant sent out the statements to thousands of wrong addresses because of a printing glitch

Apology: The banking giant sent out the statements to thousands of wrong addresses because of a printing glitch

The Spanish banking group insisted the information was not enough to enable someone to commit fraud.

But it has written to all affected customers explaining what has happened and apologising. Now the blunder could land Santander with a massive fine.

The duplication affected current account statements that were dated 18 December and were sent across the UK.

After customers complained about seeing other people's transactions, the bank immediately informed the City watchdog the Financial Services Authority of the problem.

It has also warned all of its branch and call centre staff not to reveal account information to anyone without taking them through the full security procedure, which includes people having to give extra information, such as their mother's maiden name.

A Santander spokesman said: 'This is embarrassing and customers have every right to be upset.

'We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused and have taken immediate steps to correct this.

Santander Chief Executive Antonio Horta-Osorio

Santander Chief Executive Antonio Horta-Osorio

'We take the security of customer and account information extremely seriously, so any incident of this nature is treated with the highest priority.

'We want to reassure customers that the risk of fraud on their account has not been increased because of this error and that this is a one-off incident.'

Martin Lewis, creator of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: 'Someone needs to grab hold of the reins at Santander. The bank is continually coming bottom in customer service surveys and this is yet another example why.

'The thing people need most from their bank account is trust it’ll be secure - sending statements to the wrong people doesn’t do that.

'The time when it could blame takeover teething troubles are long gone. It needs to sort this or customers will migrate quicker than a parrot seeing the snow.”

Santander could be fined heavily  by the FSA, which has previously taken a tough stance on firms that lose or reveal customers’ personal data.

Insurer Zurich was fined a record £2.28 million in August after it lost the personal details of 46,000 policyholders when an unencrypted back-up tape went missing during a routine transfer to a data storage centre in South Africa.

Nationwide was fined £980,000 for data security failings after a laptop containing customer details was stolen from an employee’s home.

Three HSBC firms were fined between £700,000 and £1.6 million each for not properly protecting customers’ personal details, while Norwich Union was fined £1.26 million for similar failings which led to a number of its customers being the victims of fraud.

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office said: ' We will be making inquiries into the circumstances of the apparent breach of the Data Protection Act before deciding what action, if any, needs to be taken.

'Organisations that process personal information have an obligation to keep it secure; therefore, it is a matter of concern if information such as account details have been incorrectly provided to the wrong recipient.

'Banks risk losing the confidence and trust of their customers if they fail to safeguard personal information.'

In the first six months of this year Santander received 245,000 complaints – equivalent to about 1,300 every day of the week.

In recent weeks, hundreds of readers have contacted Financial Mail
to complain about Santander’s woeful administration.

Readers say there are huge delays in getting new accounts set up, problems operating accounts with enduring powers of attorney, terms and conditions being broken without explanation and staff in call centres and branches routinely giving the wrong information.

They also complain about being forced to wait for ages on premium-rate phone lines for queries to be answered and a myriad of problems caused by the recent migration of Alliance & Leicester customers to Santander.

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