Personal information of some Absa customers were shared to external parties due to an isolated internal data leak at the bank by an employee.

On Monday [November 30], the bank informed customers via email that their information had accidentally been shared with third parties.

“We regret to notify you that Absa has identified an isolated internal data leak whereby personal information of a limited number of Absa customers was shared with parties external to the bank,” read the email. “Unfortunately, some of your personal information formed part of this data which included your identity number, contact details, address and account numbers.”

Absa says they have taken proactive steps to address the potential risk. Affected customers may be contacted by the bank to validate potentially suspicious transactions going forward. Any unauthorised debit orders will be stopped by the bank.

“As part of these monitoring measures, you might receive a phone call from us to validate potentially suspicious transactions to ensure heightened protection of your interest,” the bank said. “Please note that we will never ask you to share your ‘keys to the safe’ (including your online banking PIN or password or your card CVV, PIN or one-time password) with us or to approve activities to prevent fraud.”

The bank confirmed to My Broadband that the leak was a result of an employee acting unlawfully.

“Absa advises that an employee has unlawfully made selected customer data available to a small number of external parties. The leaked data relates to a small portion of Absa South Africa’s customer base to date, although investigations continue.”

Criminal charges have been sought against the employee, and Absa secured a High Court order to seize all devices containing the data. The data has since been destroyed, Absa told My Broadband.

“Absa may take further action in relation to the recipients of the data once the full scope of the leak is identified and all investigations are completed. Absa has put in place additional control measures to minimise the risk of reoccurrence in future.”

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