City of London police are investigating allegations that a call centre worker in India sold the bank account details of 1000 UK customers to an undercover reporter, raising fresh fears about the security of customer data at offshore centres.
UK daily tabloid The Sun claims a reporter was able to buy personal bank account details for £4.25 each from an IT worker in Delhi. The worker reportedly told the journalist that he could sell up to 200,000 names a month.
The paper says its reporter obtained passwords, addresses, phone numbers and password details, which could be used to raid victims' bank accounts.
City of London Police have confirmed that an investigation has begun into the allegations.
News of the 'sting' operation comes just two months after three former employees of Indian BPO firm MphasiS were arrested for allegedly siphoning off $300,000 from Citibank customers after stealing account details while working at an offshore call centre in India.
Research conducted last year by UK mutual Alliance & Leicester showed almost nine in ten (87%) Britons would prefer not to have their banking or other financial services needs serviced by an offshore call centre, and that over half (51%) of those surveyed were concerned about the security of their personal information.
Despite the public backlash against offshoring, many banks continue to operate overseas call centres - including Abbey, Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds TSB and Citibank.
Last month the UK's Financial Services Authority warned that offshoring posed a serious risk to its objectives of reducing financial crime and maintaining consumer protection and market confidence, but said that there was no evidence to suggest that consumer data is at greater risk in India than in the UK.