Wells Fargo is blaming printer error on the distribution of thousands of bank statements to new customers containing the account information of other customers.
The new customers receiving the sensitive information were in Florida and South Carolina. The information included names, addresses, transaction details and balance information, according to published reports.
Spokeswoman Aimee Worsley said PINs were not included, but Social Security numbers may have appeared since some customers use direct deposit for paychecks and government checks, and issuers often use the number to verify payees.
Wells Fargo, which didn’t disclose how many customers were affected, said it is treating the incident as an “information security breach” and said customers are being offered a free year of identity theft protection. The bank believes the risk that customers’ data will be compromised is low.
ConsumerWorld.org founder Edgar Dworsky, however, told Time magazine’s Moneyland website that someone gaining the information could use it to make a fake check or mount a phishing attack to get a PIN, Social Security number or other critical information.
A Wells Fargo spokesman, Josh Dunn, told The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., that a malfunctioning printer in Charlotte apparently put multiple customers’ account and transaction information on pages, or even single pages, of one statement.