Is your bank putting you at risk of identity theft?October 13, 2020
Could your financial institution be putting you at risk for identity theft? While banks are required to protect your private information, Bank of Montreal customer Simon Knight says the government needs to put more restrictions in place on how they do that.
Last month, Knight was shocked to receive a statement in the mail from BMO Wealth Management Nesbitt Burns that contained a lot of his private sensitive information – everything that thieves would need to steal his identity, including his full social insurance number.
The statement also included his account number, home address, full name, home telephone number, cell number, work number, employer information including his employer’s address, his salary, fixed assets, liquid assets and total net worth, and his wife’s details too – all sent to his community mailbox in Coquitlam.
“I feel betrayed and let down by somebody I trust, because I did trust them,” Knight said.
The risk of mail theft
Knight guards his privacy closely and says he is highly sensitive to the possibility of mail theft – particularly that thieves can rob consumers of their hard-earned retirement savings.
“Top of the list has got to be security,” he said. “And I think this one piece of paper I’ve got in front of me is enough about Simon Knight to do something very malicious.”
Mail theft is a huge problem and if his mail had been stolen, it would be the key to open up accounts in his name.
“Often times you won’t even find out about it until you check your credit report and you see some mysterious accounts that have gone into collections,” said Maureen Mahoney, a Consumer Reports policy analyst.
Knight shredded the documents but ended up getting three more similar documents in the following days, and was told by his bank to expect even more because he has several accounts with BMO Nesbitt Burns.
“If it’s happening to me, Ross, it’s got to be happening to thousands or tens of thousands of other Bank of Montreal customers across Canada,” Knight told McLaughlin On Your Side.
The firm has 70 offices across the country. CTV News reached out and received this statement: “The security and safety of client information is of the utmost importance to us. We follow strict procedures when handling client information and, where possible, accommodate client preferences.”
Knight says he was told, when he spoke to his bank’s management, that the mailed statements were required to keep customer information updated and to assess tolerance for risk on investments.
“I don’t think this is acceptable,” he said.
We discovered there are no rules or regulations about how financial firms reach out to their clients in order to keep information updated.
We reached out to eight different financial regulators and agencies, including: the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, the Financial Consumer…