Posts Tagged ‘account number’
by Gwyn Headley
Paying by bank transfer is much easier than paying by cheque, which is why so many companies now include their bank details — account number and sort code — on their invoices.
That’s reasonable when the recipient is a private individual or another company. It’s not so good when they are published on the fifth biggest website in the country.
To illustrate an article “Bank cheques to be cleared within a day” on their website last Wednesday the BBC used a photograph of a handwritten HSBC cheque, clearly showing a company’s account number and sort code details.
The trouble was they were ours — fotoLibra.com’s.
This was a cheque we’d paid to one of our contributors in 2012, and to add aggravation to outrage she photographed it and uploaded it to Getty Images, who then sold it to the BBC, complete with our clearly visible bank details.
James Cliffe, HSBC’s Head of Business Banking, is no call centre drudge and he took the issue sufficiently seriously to call me direct. HSBC had seen the article shortly after it appeared and immediately called the BBC to complain. The photograph was replaced within the hour.
An account number and sort code is all an unscrupulous individual needs to set up a standing order or direct debit, as Jeremy Clarkson found to his cost when he published his bank details in the belief they only worked one way. He found he was suddenly paying out a £500 direct debit to the charity Diabetes UK.
Clarkson revealed his account numbers after rubbishing the furore over the theft of 25 million people’s personal details. He wanted to prove the story was a fuss about nothing. “The bank cannot find out who did this because of the Data Protection Act and they cannot stop it from happening again,” sighed Clarkson. “I was wrong and I have been punished for my mistake.”
We hold the BBC and Getty Images equally responsible. We expect they know (Getty, that is) they’ve done wrong because there’s no trace of that image on their website today.
We still don’t know what damage we may suffer.
But if HSBC’s big guns are concerned, then we are concerned.