Wednesday 17 July 2019

Big Banker is watching as AIB checks customers' social media

Mortgage broker Karl Deeter
Mortgage broker Karl Deeter

Never mind Big Brother - Big Banker could be watching you.

The AIB group has been criticised after it emerged that it checking on customers' social media accounts.

It has been trawling through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms held by customers for comments on its service.

The bank tells customers the move "helps us understand your behaviour".

As part of the mortgage application process, customers are now required to sign a consent form that gives permission for a range of actions, such as a credit check to be carried out on them and to allow their social media accounts to be looked at by the bank.

This applies to those seeking mortgages with AIB, as well as subsidiaries EBS and Haven.

AIB Group is 71pc owned by the State, and is the country's biggest mortgage lender.

Mortgage broker Karl Deeter accused it of invading the privacy of customers by spying on them.

"I'm confident that people would not be comfortable knowing that the bank can play Big Brother with their social media information," he said.


He added that it was not clear if someone who posts on Facebook that they had attended the likes of, say, an anti-eviction protest, would end up having a mortgage application refused if the bank sees this and disapproves.

Mr Deeter, of Irish Mortgage Brokers, said borrowers cannot tell the bank not to examine their media accounts if they want to be approved for a loan.

"You can't opt out, so what do you do?" he said, adding that other lenders do not have similar provisions in their mortgage consent forms.

AIB Group defended the move to seek consent to inspect social media accounts.

It insisted it complies with all data protection requirements.

"We use personal information provided on AIB Group social channels solely to respond to and deal with customer comments or queries or for such other purpose for which it is provided," a spokesperson said.

They said that in line with common practice, AIB engages in "regular social listening where we monitor social media trends and sentiment towards our brand on social media".

It said it only examines publicly available social media data.

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