Money Grouse: Headache over number change

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The Independent Online
MIDLAND BANK has changed the account numbers on its credit cards as a result of improvements to its computer and administration systems.

This may result in some inconvenience for customers. People who have signed a debit mandate to pay for services and subscriptions, such as for the Automobile Association, from their credit card accounts must write to the organisations to notify them of the change.

Also, anyone who has registered with a card protection service must write to the company operating the service. Card protection companies register all card details and undertake to notify issuers if the card is lost.

Midland card customers have been told: 'These arrangements form part of a contract between you and the retailer concerned . . . Unfortunately, this means that we cannot advise such organisations on your behalf.'

Henry Taylor, of Ulverston, Cumbria, who has Visa and Access cards with Midland, believes this is 'legalistic eyewash'. He asks: 'What is to stop them 'informing' the card protection company - which in my case is administered by themselves - of a change of card number? Would they be breaking the law by so doing and, if not, why not?'

Mr Taylor's cards are registered with Card Protection Plan, which is recommended by Midland but is a separate company not administered by the bank.

So it is not entirely surprising that it feels unable to organise the number change. However, the bank's response to Mr Taylor's grouse was slightly baffling.

At first it said: 'Transferring information to a third party would be a breach of confidentiality.' But, we asked, would this be a breach of legal duty?

Midland's spokesman consulted bank officials and came back with a different story. Passing card details to an outside company might be a breach of the Data Protection Act. But the real problem was that the bank did not have details of everyone's card protection agencies, so how could it notify them?

Write to Money Grouse, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Include a daytime telephone number. Do not send SAEs or original documents.

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