http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=1190521&thesection=technology&thesubsection=general 08.03.2002 By RICHARD WOOD The ASB Bank mistakenly gave Cambridge man Bruce Laugesen online banking access to a joint bank account belonging to a couple in Mahitahi, in South Westland. The couple did not have internet banking access themselves, although they are ASB Bank customers and use ASB Fastphone telephone banking. The mixup occurred because the customer in Mahitahi, Bruce Laugesen, has the same first name, middle initial and last name as the Cambridge man. Although Mr Laugesen in Cambridge immediately advised the ASB Bank when he discovered he could gain access to someone else's account over the internet at the weekend, the Mahitahi couple were unaware of the security breach until the Herald talked to them on Wednesday night. Consumers' Institute chief executive David Russell said the ASB Bank should have contacted the couple immediately. "The ASB certainly owes two customers a big apology, and of more importance and to the rest of the ASB customer base is that it puts in place systems that do their very best to prevent this happening again," he said. A chief investigator with the banking ombudsman, Susan Taylor, described the situation as a "serious breach of privacy" and said it was the first occurrence she had heard that involved the internet. The banking ombudsman's office does not investigate unless a formal complaint is laid and is subsequently not resolved by the bank. ASB Securities managing director Tim Preston said that it was human error and no reflection on the security of ASB's electronic systems. He said the two customers' accounts were wrongly linked by a staff member who did not follow company procedures. "The staff member acted on name linkages only, when bank policy requires further checks and matches. The bank is disappointed that such a serious mistake was made and the staff member concerned has been made aware of the inadequacy of their actions." Mr Preston said the ASB gave customers one number and all accounts relating to that customer were linked. Once alerted to the issue, he said, the bank immediately separated the accounts, investigated the cause, and was contacting the customers to apologise. "As a result of this, we will be reviewing company procedures to ensure this cannot happen again," he said. The Laugesens in Mahitahi hold bank accounts at the Hokitika branch of the ASB and Bruce Laugesen of Mahitahi said he was quite happy with the branch. But he was concerned at how easy it was with the internet and the telephone systems to access accounts, pay bills, and shift money around. "The way computer systems are these days these things are going to happen. It will probably happen more and more as we more and more become dependent on computers. "I think I'll go back to getting rid of the phone banking and just paying it." The ASB says in its annual report that it has 100,000 internet customers who together make more than 1 million transactions a month. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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