Barclays Bank has launched an investigation after confirming a report that sensitive files on thousands of customers was stolen and sold as leads.
Barclays customers may have been scammed by rogue traders armed with detailed financial and personal information they had given to the bank while seeking financial advice.
An anonymous whistle-blower handed a portion of a Barclays database containing 27,000 customer files to the Mail on Sunday. The publication on Sunday reported each file contained a 20 page report on customers’ earnings, savings, mortgages, health issues and insurance policies.
The files were allegedly being sold to rogue traders for £50 per “lead” and were estimated by the whistle-blower to have been used to scam as many as 1,000 victims.
In a statement on Sunday, Barclays said it had notified regulators on Friday and that the files appeared to be based on details acquired from a unit no longer in operation.
“Our initial investigations suggest this is isolated to customers linked to our Barclays Financial Planning business which we ceased operating as a service in 2011. Based on what we have seen, this appears to be data from 2008 or earlier,” said Barclays.
“We will take all necessary steps to contact and advise those customers as soon as possible so that they can also ensure the safety of their personal data.”
“Protecting our customers' data is a top priority and we take this issue extremely seriously. This appears to be criminal action and we will co-operate with the authorities on pursuing the perpetrator.”
The bank could face fines of up to £500,000 from the UK’s Information Commission, but may also face heavier penalties from the Financial Conduct Authority, which has issued multimillion pound fines to other banks for mishandling customer data.