Bank remains tight-lipped about privacy incident

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 12:00 05/11/2013

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Westpac remains tight-lipped about a privacy breach where customer details went walkabout from one of its Palmerston North branches.

The bank will not confirm if it has told affected customers what happened.

Meanwhile, the man who was accused of taking documents has not received an apology after being cleared of any wrongdoing. On March 1, Palmerston North man Tane Rogers left Westpac's Broadway Ave branch with three pieces of paper listing details for 25 term deposits.

The documents, seen by the Manawatu Standard, spelled out customer account numbers, term deposit start and maturity dates, interest rates and balances.

Mr Rogers says he was given the papers as part of a sheaf of information handed over by a bank employee. But the bank called in police and is understood to have accused Mr Rogers of taking the papers and then trying to blackmail staff.

After an investigation, Mr Rogers is in the clear.

"Enquiries into the incident have now been completed. As a result there will be no further action taken in this matter," a police letter to Mr Rogers says.

Westpac spokesman Chris Mirams said, "We have no comment to make."

He did not say if the bank had told affected customers their privacy had been breached.

Mr Rogers told the Standard yesterday he thought the bank should do exactly that.

"I think they were just trying to sweep it under the carpet. I think customers should be told."

Mr Rogers' Westpac account was closed by the bank after the incident and he is disappointed he has not received an apology for the theft accusations.

"I've done nothing wrong. They accused me of taking it and they stopped my bank account and everything, and what for?"

Police asked Mr Rogers for an interview back in March, but he declined until he spoke to a lawyer.

He subsequently gave a statement to his lawyer and never heard back from investigating officers.

In March, Mr Mirams said nothing was given to Mr Rogers and nothing was left in a "public space".

He declined to say if security footage would have recorded what happened. "We never comment on security issues for all the obvious reasons."

No matter how incidents happen, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner generally says it is a good idea for organisations to notify affected parties of any potential privacy breach.

Voluntary guidelines suggest an organisation can take into account the harm suffered when deciding if notification is necessary.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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