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Bank clients' data being leaked, sold

By Xiao Li (Shanghai Daily)

15:19, January 11, 2012

PERSONAL details of huge numbers of bank clients have been leaked and sold in China due to lax bank supervision.

Intermediate agencies allegedly purchased personal information from bank employees that included not only names, addresses and phone numbers but bank account information.

They then sold the data for five times the amount they paid for them, The Beijing News reported yesterday.

Banks were "powerless" to stop the information leak because their employees had easy access to the client database, the newspaper report said.

"Clients' database was almost available to every employee, a bank financial consultant surnamed Zhang said. "Even the receptionist could send me one of my clients' information within two minutes on request."

Banks offer a rich trove of information on clients because of financial statements and profiles and therefore are good targets for leaks, a senior official with a state-owned bank surnamed Gao told the newspaper.

A former advertisement seller surnamed Liu was advised to buy potential customers' details when he first entered the industry two years ago.

Detailed profiles of 9,674 high-end bank clients were exposed to him, including names, phone numbers, addresses, bank accounts and ID numbers. It greatly helped him to develop his business, Liu said. Banks turned a blind eye to the transactions, Liu said.

China has laws against illegally obtaining, leaking and selling personal information. But flaws in how the laws are written together with weak law enforcement take the teeth out of efforts to make them work, a lawyer told the newspaper.

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