Identity Theft

In some instances, banks are obliged to supply information about their customers' accounts:

- where required to by law - for example, providing the Inland Revenue with a list of customers who receive more than a given amount of interest (this applies also to building societies), or communicating a suspicion that a customer's funds are derived fr>- where it's a public duty. In practice, most instances of this nature are now covered by specific laws

- where it's in the interests of the bank. This is a very vague area. It seems reasonable enough that the bank should use such information to prevent itself from, say, advancing a loan to a customer who was a bad risk. But it's not reasonable that informa>- where you have given your consent - even if it's only implied. For example, you'll usually be deemed to have given your implied consent to the bank responding to requests for a bank reference. The Jack Committee has recommended that banks should seek yo>- where your relationship with the bank has broken down. For example, banks have recently begun to pass information about customers' bad debts to credit reference agencies. It's argued that this can be done without getting consent because, by going into d> Under the Data Protection Act 1984 you have a right to a written record of any data about yourself which is held on computer record. Even if you can't prevent the bank disclosing information in some circumstances, you may at least be able to obtain a copy of the information passed on.

Click here for more information on Deposit (savings) Accounts

Keeping Things Confidential

Debit cards Many current EFT-POS schemes are pilot projects so you might not have the option to try them out just yet. But debit cards are a possibility for anyone and are issued by most of the big banks. Before applying for a debit card, bear in mind these points:

- using a debit card rather than a cheque usually means that your account is debited much sooner than the three days or more that it normally takes for a transaction to clear

- using a debit card rather than a credit card means that you lose an interest-free period of credit

- the legal position regarding... see: Keeping Things Confidential

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