In Case You Didn't Know, Revealing Your Bank Info Isn't Very Smart

from the thanks-for-pointing-that-out dept

In the wake of various huge data leaks in the UK, TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson wrote a column telling people it was no big deal and revealing his bank account information — insisting that the only thing anyone could do with that info was put more money into his account. It turns out (not surprisingly) that’s not quite true… and Clarkson discovered that after someone used his bank details to donate £500 of Clarkson’s money to a charity without his knowledge. To Clarkson’s credit, he has apologized:

“I opened my bank statement this morning to find out that someone has set up a direct debit which automatically takes £500 from my account. The bank cannot find out who did this because of the Data Protection Act and they cannot stop it from happening again. I was wrong and I have been punished for my mistake. Contrary to what I said at the time, we must go after the idiots who lost the discs and stick cocktail sticks in their eyes until they beg for mercy.”

Add this story to the one about the CEO of an anti-identity-fraud company whose advertisements published his social security number… until that social security number was used for identity fraud.

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Comments on “In Case You Didn't Know, Revealing Your Bank Info Isn't Very Smart”

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PaulT (profile) says:

For anyone out there unfamiliar with Clarkson (I’ll assume the Americans for one), he’s a TV presenter mostly concerned with driving cars and commenting on how fast they go in various entertaining ways. I’m impressed (but not surprised – he’s pretty loudmouthed) that he literally put his money where his mouth was, but certainly not surprised at the results…

Steve says:

Re: Re:

I am surprised that Clarkson had a problem with this – it must point to a fundamental weakness in the British banking system. Living in Europe it is so normal to publish your bank details: dentists, doctors, plumbers, etc etc sometimes publish several bank account owned by them to facilitate payments by customers INTO their accounts. In 20 years of living here, I have never heard of identity (or money) theft being a problem from published account numbers. Mind you, in a country where you can “prove” your identity with a gas bill ……..

Stolen Me says:

CEO ID not stolen

Ok I read the other story expecting to see how LifeLock had failed. But it is merely that some lender failed to even run a credit check. If a lender totally neglects to run any verification does that mean your identity is stolen? Can they recover there money or affect your credit if they have never checked it at all? If so, that would seem to be the problem to me. Do they even have to lend you money to claim you failed to repay? That is all that happened in the LifeLock story and if that means their system failed them we have a very big problem of verification, but I don’t see it as a LifeLock error.

Anonymous Coward says:

This story actually made me happy. Usually when technology related stories appear, I get angry at the amount of stupidity, ignorance and sheer stubbornness that is displayed by the people involved.

But here, he made a claim and was proven to be false, and he admitted his mistake publicly and didn’t try to pass the blame onto anyone else.

Even the “thief” in this story just donated the money instead of stealing it. It’s more like he was just making a point that it could be done (£500 is, in all honesty, probably not that much money to Clarkson). These stories make me happy.

Rick says:

Re: He deserved it but...

All the banks release money without verification. All I ever need to start an checking debit online is my routing and account numbers, then I click submit. 2-3 days later, the money is paid out of my checking account.

The gas station, fast food restaurants and drug store don’t even ask for a signature anymore if it’s under $25 on a credit card. Just swipe and go.

fuse5k says:


The reason why the money was direct debited to charity is simple. This charity is one of a few in the UK that will set up a direct debit without a signature. Even if the theif had wanted to remove money from the account for personal gains they wouldnt have been able.

I think that this highlights more the fact that you shouldnt be able to set up a direct debit on an account without a verified signature, than anything else

Dolf says:

I remember watching an episode of Top Gear where this fool came to America to drive American cars. He sneeringly called Americans stupid. Needless to say that was the last episode I watched. It always pleased me to know that, in reality, he is quite inept, but having the world see it makes it that much better. On top of that he drives a Ford GT. Ignorant hypocrite.

judge says:


Why is this any different than writing a check to someone. I have to think you would need more than an ABA and account number to remove money. Every time you write a check to someone (groceries, gas whatever) that check has those two items on it. And now the keys to your finances are in the hands of some kid behind the counter? I don’t think so.

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