NAB Documents

Reporter: Rodney Lohse

It's just gone 7pm and one of Australia's biggest banks has just opened its security vault to the most intimate details of dozens of its customers.

Passports, Medicare cards, credit cards, bank account numbers, addresses, tax returns, payslips -- anything and everything you need to know to empty bank accounts, steal identities and take out huge fraudulent loans.

Night after night, more and more are being exposed to potential fraud and theft.

National Australia Bank had been trying to sell Kevin a small business loan and as a result, had all his most intimate financial details. But they failed to dispose of it securely.

Footage showed the cleaner taking out the trash. He had no idea what was being dumped in the bins, un-shredded, but head of the Queensland Fraud Squad, Brian Hay, says it is worth millions of dollars. "That's gold on a plate -- its done, its dusted", he said.

And essentially taking these documents from the bin is not even a crime because this isn't the NAB's dumpster, which can be found about 100 metres round the corner. The cleaner, to save time, has jumped a fence to another shopping centre altogether.

It was passed on to us by someone authorised to access the bin but who wishes to remain anonymous. He says this was a nightly occurrence.

From the one bag of rubbish, more than 40 people have been compromised -- banking and fraud experts tell us all more than enough to steal millions of dollars of other people's money. Even our informant didn't realise how valuable the information was.

So, what do the NAB's customers think of their information being exposed? We knocked and knocked and knocked every time the reaction the same.

Colin, a former bank worker, can't believe it. "I'm just dumbfounded. This is all stuff that we're supposed to expect to be kept private", he said.

Barry like everyone we doorknocked, was shocked. "Can't afford a shredder huh? I've got a business and I've got about four of them and I'm no where as big as the NAB", he said.

The NAB made more than $4.2 billion profit last year, you'd think with that kind of money a shredder would be a very cheap and easy solution to this problem.

We decided to put that to the NAB branch staff in question, together with the present of a shredder. The bank manager wouldn't speak to us -- he was too busy -- but another staffer was more than happy to take the documents and the shredder which cost us just $50.

Now it would be very easy for the bank to blame the cleaner for this taking a short cut to save time, but if I was a customer of this bank, I'd like to think my personal information was destroyed long before the cleaner got hold of it.

"It's just callous disregard for their personal identity and I think it unconscionable", said Stephanie Retchless, a former bank manager with 36 years experience.

She says NAB's behaviour borders on criminal. "There's probably enough information in those documents for me to take up the personalities of probably 20 to 30 people with ease", she added.

The National Australia Bank declined an interview but said.

"We can confirm that in response to the incident, NAB has taken the following immediate actions:

- Counselled and where appropriate disciplined staff involved in this incident.

- Undertaken a full review of the waste disposal processes across our entire branch network.

- Re-communicated to all staff the importance of strict adherence to privacy and waste disposal policies and procedures.

Many of the people we approached have said they are now walking away from the bank, but regardless, the reality for dozens, possibly hundreds of NAB clients, is it's too late -- their identities may already be stolen.

Full NAB Statement:

We were extremely disappointed to hear of the incident at one of our branches on the Gold Coast.

Our first priority upon hearing of the breach was to immediately secure the safe return of the documents and we have since implemented a process of notifying impacted customers.

We take matters of this nature extremely seriously and as such, we have advised the Federal Privacy Commissioner of this incident and have kept them updated on actions undertaken to mitigate any potential impact on these customers.

We can confirm that in response to the incident, NAB has taken the following immediate actions:

- Counselled and where appropriate disciplined staff involved in this incident

- Undertaken a full review of the waste disposal processes across our entire branch network

- Re-communicated to all staff the importance of strict adherence to privacy and waste disposal policies and procedures

We appreciate the responsibility we have in ensuring that we keep our customers information private and apologise unreservedly for this incident. We would encourage any customer who has any concern about this incident to contact us immediately.