The Second of Two Posts
HSBC has told me that I need to close my accounts, if I do not want it to hand over my banking details to credit reference agencies — as will anyone in Britain wishing to keep their banking transactions confidential. A few weeks ago, after a routine query, I discovered that each month HSBC sends my bank account details to three private, for-profit companies two of which are based outside of the UK. I asked HSBC to stop doing this, to which it replied that British banks were ‘required’ to do this. If I were unhappy, I should close my accounts. I spoke to the Financial Services Ombudsman and the Financial Conduct Authority. Neither had any idea exactly what the requirement is under British law that makes them share confidential customer information with strangers. Nor did they know what due diligence takes place by the UK government to authorise these companies to operate here, particularly those based abroad. We are talking about the most private and personal details of anyone’s life, every transaction on every account and credit card, shipped off to be scrutinized by people with no business at all to know where we eat, where we sleep, where we travel and the rest. Long ago, we trusted banks and their authorizing institutions to more or less do the right thing. We now know they are riddled with too much laziness, hubris, incompetence and moral corruption to be trusted. We had hoped after the 2008 crash they would reform, but they have not. In my previous post I put up photographs of the chief executives who run the three secret credit reference agencies, the multi-millionaires who know too much about our lives. Today, I am posting the bosses of the government institutions which are failing to protect our privacy. They are Caroline Wayman, Financial Services Ombudsman, Andrew Bailey, Financial Conduct Authority and Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner.