Brokers trump banks in protecting client info

A private investigator hired by Australia's secure destruction peak body shows banks' rubbish is potentially putting your clients at risk



Bank branches have been exposed as the worst offenders when it comes to leaving confidential client information vulnerable to theft, thanks to a bit of old fashioned detective work carried out on the part of the National Association of Information Destruction (NAID-ANZ).

The NAID-ANZ, which is the peak body for the secure destruction industry, hired private detective agency, The Private Group, to find out what customer information various businesses were chucking into their unsecured bins.

The investigator went through the contents of publicly accessible waste bins used by 80 Sydney businesses that have an established responsibility to protect client data, with the aim of discovering the relative percentage of confidential waste that might be available on a given day.

The findings within some sectors were concerning, to say the least.

Nearly half (40%) of bank branches were found to have dumped confidential documents into easily accessible and non-secure rubbish bins.

Included among a dozen or so of the most troubling findings was a report pictured in our story, listing an account holder’s information, including name, address, social security number, credit card number, account balances, and credit limits.

NAID spokesperson, Nick Hill, assures Australian Broker that mortgage brokers proved far more thorough.

“Banks were the worst transgressors in the study, but the handful of mortgage brokers that we looked at, we didn’t find anything.”

However, Hill warns that the study simply involved someone ‘casually’ looking at a bin, rather than dissecting it in an overly-thorough manner. While this bodes ill for bank branches, he says it’s no ‘cause for complacency’ amongst brokers’.

While the results of the Sydney study demonstrate the need for improvement, the overall results are actually better than similar surveys conducted in other cities. In the same study conducted for Toronto, Canada, Madrid, Spain and London, U.K., more than 40% of commercial trash bins across various industries contained confidential information at the same cross section of organisations.

However, global NAID CEO, Bob Johnson, says thought the Australian results are better than other similar studies, it would be a 'mistake' to consider it acceptable.

“According to the Australian Crime Commission, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the country. Studies have shown that these criminals often rely on low-tech, untraceable sources of personal information. Dumpster diving is a big part of their trade craft.”

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!