Barclays Bank has launched an investigation following a reported security breach involving thousands of confidential customer files.
The Mail on Sunday took delivery of a memory stick containing personal details of 2,000 Barclays customers from a whistleblower. The files reportedly contained passport and national insurance details, as well as financial data, health and insurance information.
The whistleblower alleges that the information was sold to "rogue City traders" and served as a target list for boiler room-style high pressure investment sales operations.
Those listed apparently completed psychometric tests to determine their attitude to risk and this formed a key component of the leaked information.
The leaked information allegedly represents a sample of a dossier containing a total of 27,000 records. Whether or not there is more information beyond the 2,000 leaked files remains unconfirmed.
Each individual dossier is 20 pages long and said to be worth £50 on the black market. Reporters at the Mail on Sunday contacted victims of the breach, whose angry reaction features prominently in the paper's story.
The data dates from 2008 and is said to have come from clients of Barclays Financial Planning, a financial advice division of the bank which closed in 2011.
A Barclays spokeswoman told El Reg that it had reported the incident to financial regulators at the FCA and data privacy watchdogs at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). The matter has also been reported to the police.
Barclays is in the process of checking whether the information contained in the file is genuine before contacting affected customers, as an official statement from the bank explains.
We are grateful to the Mail on Sunday for bringing this to our attention and we contacted the Information Commissioner and other regulators on Friday as soon as we were made aware.
Our initial investigations suggest this is isolated to customers linked to our Barclays Financial Planning business which we ceased operating as a service in 2011. Based on what we have seen, this appears to be data from 2008 or earlier.
We will take all necessary steps to contact and advise those customers as soon as possible so that they can also ensure the safety of their personal data.
Protecting our customers' data is a top priority and we take this issue extremely seriously. This appears to be criminal action and we will co-operate with the authorities on pursuing the perpetrator.
We would like to reassure all of our customers that we have taken every practical measure to ensure that personal and financial details remain as safe and secure as possible.
An ICO spokesperson said:
It's crucial that people's personal information is properly looked after. We'll be working with the Mail on Sunday this week to get further details of what has happened here, as well as working with the police.