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Ask and you shall receive - requesting data from banks

Posted on May 30, 2012 by Iain McDougall  | 0 Comments

We recently met with a client who had a dispute with his bank regarding the potential miss-selling of a financial product. We asked if he could bring along the key documents. He brought along the papers we usually expect to see at a first meeting - copies of the financial instruments, some correspondence between himself and the Bank. In addition to this he also brought along a large coloured folder, which to our surprise, turned out to be the Bank’s own internal file on his accounts and borrowings.

The file itself contained the client’s correspondence with the Bank. It also contained the Bank’s own internal correspondence – about the client. Needless to say it made for some very interesting reading and greatly assisted with our investigations.

We asked how he managed to get hold of this file. The answer was simple: he asked the Bank for it and they provided it to him.

A more difficult Bank might well have refused to disclose the file or tried to claim that its contents are confidential. However if information is being held about you, you have the right to see it under the Data Protection Act, which allows you to request information/data held by a private body about yourself. Information held by a bank or within a bank's file would be caught by a data access request, and the Bank are legally required to comply with such a request.  The body holding the information can charge you a fee for providing the information to you but the good news is that the maximum fee which can be levied is £10.

The FSA’s Conduct of Business Rules also require lenders to keep proper records. In some circumstances they must keep records which set out why certain financial advice was provided. If you are having difficulty with your bank, ask for a copy of your file or request to see their written records of the advice tendered to you.

For more information and guidance on how to make a request under the DPA, the Information Commissioner's website is useful and the Information Commissioner's Guidelines are also very helpful.

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