POSB customer irate that bank didn’t seek consent before sharing personal information with third party

Getting a new ATM card in the mail just before your existing one expires seems serendipitous. At least it was for one POSB customer until they realised that the new card they received was a PAssion POSB debit card which is a tie-up between the bank and the People’s Association.

The customer, Ng Gim Yeow said in a letter published on TODAY that he was “dismayed to learn that information, such as my employment status, yearly income range and housing type, would be disclosed to the People’s Association (PA)” without his prior consent.

The customer noted that even though he is currently uses a regular POSB ATM card, the bank “cannot assume that consent given several years ago for a different card continues to apply.”

Concern on data privacy aside, Mr Ng also said that POSB should have prsented him with the various options of available cards so that he can make an informed decision for himself about the card he wants to use.

In attempting to exchange the PAssion POSB card for another, the bank had apparently told Mr Ng that he could apply for another card online. However, that didn’t quite work as we was unable to select the option on the website. Instead, he visited a branch of POSB in Buona Vista. This time he was put off by the long queue.

Resorting to a formal letter instead, Mr Ng said he sent in a written request for a new card. However, contradictory to what he had been told before by POSB customer service, the bank replied saying that it could not accede to the request, urging him to submit an application online instead.

Mr Ng chided the bank in his letter, saying “I cannot see how POSB, which bills itself as “neighbours first, bankers second”, lives up to its name when it not only failed to seek my consent to disclose data to a third party, but sent me on a wild goose chase.”

Responding to Mr Ng’s letter with a letter of their own, DBS Bank – which owners POSB – said that the privacy and security of their customers’ personal data are of the utmost importance to them.

“The bank has safeguards in place to protect personal data stored with us. We wish to clarify that we do not disclose our customers’ personal data to third parties without their consent,” they clarified.

Narrowing in on Mr Ng’s concern about the PAssion POSB debit card, DBS said that customers “would have agreed to be enrolled in a PAssion Card membership, and hence, consented to the bank’s sharing relevant information with the People’s Association for the sole purpose of creating this membership” as indicated on the card information slip that customers receive with any new/replacement card.

The bank added that they have reached out to Mr Ng to address his concerns and have apologised for the inconvenience he’s experienced.

“We will review how card information is presented, so that it is clear and intuitively understood,” they added.