HSBC exposed sensitive bankruptcy data

The bank won't say exactly what the problem was, or how many were affected

HSBC Bank says a bug in its imaging software inadvertently exposed sensitive data about some of its customers going through bankruptcy proceedings.

In notification letters made public Thursday, the bank said it had redacted sensitive information in Chapter 13 bankruptcy proof-of-claim forms that were filed electronically, but that the information turned out to be viewable "as a result of the deficiency in the software used to save imaged documents."

An HSBC spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the cause of the problem, but said "a limited number of customers" were affected. HSBC has "no reason to believe customers' personal information may have been compromised," she added via e-mail.

The company sent letters to affected customers in October and is offering them one year of free credit monitoring.

Some customers of the following HSBC companies are affected: HSBC Taxpayer Financial Services, Beneficial New Hampshire and Household Finance Corporation.

According to documents (PDF) filed Thursday with the New Hampshire Attorney General's office, HSBC failed to completely redact information on forms that were filed between May 1, 2007, and Oct. 17, 2008. HSBC said it learned of the problem on July 9, 2009.

The data disclosed may have covered HSBC credit card, line-of-credit or mortgage information, the company said.

Legal documents are increasingly being filed online, causing some problems as company employees get used to the new formats. Information on paper copies can be redacted with a marker pen, but electronic redaction, if not done properly, can be reversed with a simple cut-and-paste.

Earlier this year, for example, the Associated Press was able to read redacted court testimony that showed Facebook's estimate of its own market value.

The AP got its scoop by cutting and pasting the blacked-out sections of a court transcript.

The problem is large enough that two months ago the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey sent out guidelines explaining how to properly redact information.

"Electronically filing PDF'd documents is a relatively new process for lawyers," many of whom have only recently started using desktop computers, said Christina Frangiosa, counsel with the law firm Panitch Schwarze Belisario & Nadel.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags data leaksdata breachHSBC

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Kit

Learn more >

ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q – Reign beyond virtual world

Learn more >

D-Link TAIPAN AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L)

Learn more >

Xiro Drone Xplorer V -3 Axis Gimbal & 1080p Full HD 14MP Camera

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Crucial® BX200 SATA 2.5” 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >


Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

ASUS VivoPC VM62 - Incredibly Powerful, Unbelievably Small

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Best Deals on PC World

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?