Kiwi Bank was today red-faced after discovering that highly confidential documents had been handed across the counter to a member of the public at the Greymouth branch.
The documents, which were passed on to the Greymouth Star, contain personal information of about 20 West Coast individuals, including full names, dates of birth, bank account numbers, signatures and email addresses.
The information had already been through two sets of hands before being passed to the newspaper to raise the alarm about the privacy breach.
A cursory glance show the papers include original copies of automatic payment changes, money transfers, term deposits, bank operating authorities, and payments.
The envelope of documents was inadvertently given to a member of the public when they went into the Kiwi Bank office, run out of the Post Shop, last Friday. The man was inquiring about opening an account and was handed a green brochure and a large envelope, and told to go away and study them.
The teller had been busy on the phone and appeared distracted.
The individual did not think anything untoward about the envelope and opened it when he got home; only to discover that it contained confidential documents he was not meant to see.
He handed the documents to a friend. "As soon as I saw it, I thought 'this is another privacy breach'," the second man said, referring to similar events with ACC clients receiving confidential information in the mail.
Neither individual wanted to be named, but both were worried at the carelessness of the breach.
"This sort of thing shouldn't happen."
Kiwi Bank responded this morning saying that the privacy of their customers was "very important" and they regarded the incident seriously.
"We are investigating the situation and we will take the appropriate steps to contact the affected customers to let them know what has happened, and conduct a review of the processes in the Greymouth branch to ensure this situation does not happen again," a spokesman said.