Bank's embarrassing privacy breach

ROB KIDD
Last updated 09:54 08/12/2013
Joel Morrison
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ
IN THE MONEY: Two-year-old Joel Morrison received bank statements from ANZ featuring the details of some high-profile customers.

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ANZ has been left red-faced over a major privacy breach after it inadvertently sent bank statements for customers' accounts containing hundreds of thousands of dollars to a two-year old boy.

The bank botch saw Whangarei toddler Joel Morrison sent a pile of other people's account statements, all of which contained considerably more than his own savings account of about $200.

The statements arrived in the mail after Joel's mum, Stacey Morrison, requested details of her own spending.

Instead her son received a statement on his account - along with those of a bunch of strangers.

When visited by the Sunday Star-Times, Joel seemed more concerned with his toy cars but his mum said it was a worrying situation.

"It's like someone coming into your house, knowing how you've spent your money; even if you've done nothing wrong," she said.

"It's a huge concern.

"Some of these people have hundreds of thousands."

ANZ asked her to return the statements but first Morrison contacted the account holders to inform them. They were not impressed.

One, Auckland barrister Jan Naish-Wallis, described it as "a bad mistake".

"It includes my business and all sorts over a period of time, so it's a very poor showing," she said.

Fellow Aucklander Brenda Fisher was similarly disappointed.

"It's a dreadful thing. I had a big shock when I heard."

Another account holder - a man with a six-figure balance who did not want to be named - said if it was any more than a one-off "the bank should be out of business".

He told Morrison he had a lawyer looking into the incident but refused to confirm that when spoken to this week.

An ANZ spokesman said they were "gutted" to discover the privacy breach.

"Straight away we launched an investigation into how it happened.

"Our inquiries point to it being a handling error at a printer," he said.

"We are reviewing processes to find out exactly what happened and to prevent it happening again. We have clear processes in place and it appears they weren't followed. We are sure this was a one-off incident."

But Morrison was not so sure.

"The average person would probably throw it out without thinking. It was a horrendous breach of privacy," she said.

"You can't tell me that's a one-off thing."

The affected customers all questioned what could have happened had the details fallen into the wrong hands but ANZ said there was no information sent out that would have jeopardised the security of their savings.

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- Sunday Star Times

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