AIB error led 15,000 customers to get details of other accounts

November 23, 2007

By John Downes

A significant error at AIB bank earlier this month led it to send 15,000 notifications to its customers containing the private bank account details of other individuals. A total of 11,000 AIB customers are affected by the move, writes John Downes.

Last night, it also emerged that some of the bank account details sent to AIB customers in recent days relate not just to AIB accounts, but also reveal the names and bank account details of customers with other banks.

It is understood that as many as 7,500 of the notices contained the names, addresses and full bank account numbers of AIB customers.This means these details, contained in notices relating to "inward" payments, are now in the possession of other customers of the bank.

Most of the remaining "outward" payment notices included the name of a bank account holder, usually with a bank other than AIB, and their account numbers, but not their address.

A bank spokesman said the information in question was no more or less than would be contained in a company invoice or cheque.

However the error, which AIB said was the result of a "technical problem" in the issuing of international payment advice notices, has been labelled a "serious breach" by a spokesman for the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

Customers of the bank who either received or transferred an international payment between November 13th and 15th are affected by the error.

Those who received the notices were wrongly provided with details relating to someone else's transaction. As a result, they were incorrectly told the transaction related to their account.

The bank stressed that no customer accounts have been incorrectly credited or debited as a result of the error. A company spokesman added that it had "nothing whatsoever" to do with computer "hackers" or other unauthorised parties attempting to access its system.

AIB has informed the Office of Data Protection Commissioner which is awaiting an AIB report on the matter in the coming days. The company said it would allow affected customers to change their bank account details should they so wish.

"AIB regrets that this occurred and is currently writing to each customer involved to apologise, to explain how this occurred and to reassure them that this was an isolated error," the bank said.

One of the incorrect notices, seen by The Irish Times , wrongly informed the customer that a payment of .5,000 had been made from their business account to an account with the Bank of China.

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