Wed, Nov 26, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Ministry punishes bank for online security leaks

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

After a two-week-long investigation, the Ministry of Finance yesterday punished Citibank N.A. (花旗銀行) for negligent internal management, which led to a leak of bank clients' personal information through online credit-card-application services.

"From today on, Citibank will be prohibited from issuing new credit cards for a month," Huang Tien-mu (黃天牧), deputy director-general of the ministry's bureau of monetary affairs, told a press conference yesterday.

According to Huang, the bank had been ordered to shut down its online credit-card-application services immediately as well as online customer-inquiry services, after complaints were made on Nov. 11 that personal information of online credit-card applicants might have been leaked.

The bureau yesterday ruled that Citibank's online-service system was seriously flawed, while the bank was tardy in responding to consumers' complaints.

Both Citibank's online services will remain shut for a period of three months until Feb. 11, when improvements have been made, the official said.

To ensure that consumers' rights and interests are not harmed, the bureau may prolong the suspension of services if it is not satisfied with the bank's improvements in its online services.

According to Huang, Citibank plans to invite computer experts from foreign countries, as a third independent party, to look into and debug its online-service system by the end of this month, in order to facilitate a safer electronic banking network.

In response, Citibank released a written statement saying that it fully respects the financial authorities' decision.

"The bank will thoroughly review its online-service computerization processes to renew our commitment to excellence in our customer service," the bank said.

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