Barclays is embroiled on a new scandal on claims highly sensitive data on thousands of clients was sold to unscrupulous brokers.
According to the Mail on Sunday, the confidential information related to customers within its financial planning division, which the bank ceased to operate in 2011.
In what has been described as the worst case data loss at a UK High Street Bank, the information included customers’ earnings, savings, mortgages, health issues and insurance policies, along with passport and National Insurance details.
The Mail said an anonymous whistleblower exposed the leak by handing the newspaper a memory stick containing files on around 2,000 customers. While it’s not clear how the records were stolen, the informer claimed the stick was a sample of up to 27,000 files, which he said could fetch £50 per file.
The whistleblower told the paper: 'I was given the Barclays "leads" after they had been "rinsed" - or used up - and told to sell them to other brokers.
'In the end, I didn’t do this because I thought it was wrong - and by that time I’d had enough of the whole business.'
In statement published Barclays said: ‘We are grateful to The Mail on Sunday for bringing this to our attention and we contacted the Information Commissioner and other regulators on Friday as soon as we were made aware.
'Our initial investigations suggest this is isolated to customers linked to our Barclays Financial Planning business, which we ceased in 2011. Based on what we've seen, this appears to be data from 2008 or earlier.
It added: ‘We will take all necessary steps to contact and advise those customers as soon as possible so that they can also ensure the safety of their personal data.
‘Protecting customers’ data is a top priority and we take this issue extremely seriously. This appears to be criminal action and we will co-operate with the authorities on pursuing the perpetrator.
The revelation could leave Barclays facing a hefty fine. Back in 2009 HSBC was hit with a £3 million penalty after it was accused of being ‘careless’ in the handling of customer data.
Barclays stopped offering financial advice through its retail branches in 2011 after deeming it was no longer commercial viable. The decision came shortly after it was fined £7.7 million for mis-selling two Aviva funds.
The news is another blow to the bank, which has spent millions on 'Project Transform' in a bid to revive its reputation after it was hit with a £290 million for rigging Libor in June 2010.