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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Cyen, Jan 7th, 2008 @ 2:21pm

    Officer Pick-O

    Jeremy obviously did not see this PSA from officer Pick-O

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    PaulT (profile), Jan 7th, 2008 @ 2:48pm

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    SeattleGuy, Jan 7th, 2008 @ 2:50pm

    Cocktail Sticks??

    So Jeremy's idea of torture is drink umbrellas in the eyes. Sounds nasty and sure to extract revenge, but still better that Bush's waterboarding.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Pete, Jan 7th, 2008 @ 2:51pm

    Well that was nice of the thief to donate the money to charity instead of using it for something like beer and women

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2008 @ 3:25pm


    Well at this point the fellow wasnt a thief. He was just taking up the challenge and doing a public service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Stolen Me, Jan 7th, 2008 @ 3:31pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2008 @ 3:58pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    victor, Jan 7th, 2008 @ 5:38pm

    He deserved it but...

    this shouldn't have happened.
    Is it really possible to take some money from your bank account with just the account number? I mean, WTH?

    What kind of bank releases money without verification?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Rick, Jan 7th, 2008 @ 6:16pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Brett, Jan 7th, 2008 @ 10:52pm


    Actually the website still lists his SSN#. As mentioned in comments above some shady lender advanced money without even performing a credit check.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    fuse5k, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 3:20am


    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Ferin, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 4:55am

    Actually Lifelock is stil running ads on tv with his SSN shown. I saw two or three of them this weekend.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Dolf, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 6:39am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    judge, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 7:32am


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    JustMatt, Jan 8th, 2008 @ 8:18am

    All for show

    He calls everyone stupid, it is part of the act. And he sold the GT (but not to me, sadly).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Bank Accounts Australia, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 2:09am

    bank accounts

    Compare leading bank accounts with Australia’s leading
    financial comparison web site, Credit world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Steve, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 7:39am


    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 ........

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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