Bank official's access to account unsettling

The DBS Asia Hub located at the Changi Business Park.
The DBS Asia Hub located at the Changi Business Park. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

A recent experience with DBS Bank made me wonder how serious it is about observing client privacy.

On March 11, a DBS banker called and arranged to meet me to discuss a new "savings plan".

We met the following day at my neighbourhood DBS branch. When I arrived, the banker showed me a statement of my account with all my numbers plain to see. I was mystified.

I asked him when I had given him permission to access my account and to print out these numbers on a sheet of paper to carry around.

I should note that prior to showing me the numbers, he had asked me for my identification, which I did not have on me.

He showed them to me anyway, even though he had no way of knowing if I was, indeed, the person I said I was. When I pointed this out to him, he became flustered and apologised.

In response to my question of whether he had my permission to access my account, the young banker apologised again.

He told me that the right protocol would have been to meet me in person, verify my identity, then ask for my permission before accessing my account in front of me to discuss the financial plan he was proposing.

What he had done, instead, was to access my account without my permission and run a simulation model of my potential earnings beforehand, so that he would have something to present to me when we met.

While I give the young man props for his work ethic, I am curious as to whether he had indeed violated my privacy and what the bank has to say about this.

I am uncomfortable knowing that any financial planner from DBS is able to access my banking information, know how much money I am saving and, in effect, try to sell me a financial plan.

I should also say that what he described as a "savings plan" was really a retirement insurance plan, which I politely declined.

Yen Feng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2019, with the headline 'Bank official's access to account unsettling'. Print Edition | Subscribe