The Barclays data theft scandal – revealed this weekend – is just the tip of the iceberg, according to the whistleblower behind the report, who has claimed that such scams are going on “all the time in the City”.
The security breach, reported in the Mail on Sunday, was said to contain details on 2,000 individuals including their names, phone numbers, passport numbers, mortgages and levels of savings, which had been sold to rogue City brokers. However, it was just a sample from a haul of stolen data containing the details of 27,000 individuals.
The whistleblower said he was given the data to sell on by an unnamed firm of rogue brokers whom he worked with. People on the file are believed to have been customers of the now defunct Barclays Financial Planning business, which was fined £7.7m in 2011 and ordered to pay up to £59m in compensation for mis-selling investment funds to more than 12,000 customers.
“The data is a gold mine for traders because it is so incredibly detailed. It gets them inside the customer’s head,” said the whistleblower, adding: “This illegal trade is going on all the time in the City.”
Barclays said it would be writing to the customers concerned and has begun an immediate internal inquiry. However, it claims not all of the individuals named in the files were its customers.
The move has also sparked investigations by both the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Financial Conduct Authority. The FCA can impose unlimited fines, and while the ICO has the power to can fine organisations up to £500,000.
Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt, who is parliamentary private secretary to Vince Cable launched a stinging attack on data breach, demanding that “someone goes to prison”.
But her call will no doubt rankle the ICO, who has been demanding this for years with little co-operation from MPs. As recently as late last year, Commissioner Christopher Graham demanded greater powers after another case involving Barclays.
Munt told The Guardian: “This is catastrophic, just awful. What protections have Barclays got in place? Are the police going to pursue this, are they going to prosecute, and is someone going to go to jail for this? They should do.”
Barclays is no stranger to data breaches. Last year, a former employee was prosecuted for accessing a customer’s personal details and passing them on to a friend, who was dating him at the time. Meanwhile in December 2012, another staff member was fined just £500 for accessing the bank records of her partner’s ex-wife.
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