Irish eyes are spying with AIB’s social media prying
It’s not a very sociable thing to do but Ireland’s AIB has been caught spying on its customers’ social media accounts.
According to the Irish Independent, the bank has been going through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media accounts held by customers for comments on its service.
AIB tells its customers that the move “helps us understand your behaviour”.
As part of the mortgage application process, customers are now required to sign a consent form, which gives permission for a range of things, 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.
It applies to those seeking mortgages with AIB and its subsidiaries, EBS and Haven. AIB Group is 71%-owned by the state and is the nation’s biggest mortgage lender.
Karl Deeter, operations and compliance manager at Irish Mortgage Brokers, had something to say about this: “I’m confident that people would not be comfortable knowing that the bank can play Big Brother with their social media information.”
Deeter says it isn’t clear if someone who posts on Facebook that they attend the likes of anti-eviction protests would end up having a mortgage application refused if the bank was to see this.
He also points out that mortgage borrowers could not tell the bank not to examine their social media accounts if they wanted to be approved for a loan.
“You can’t opt out, so what do you do?”
Deeter notes that other lenders do not have similar provisions in their mortgage consent forms.
The consent forms for AIB, EBS and Haven also allow the lenders to carry out credit checks on customers and warn that the mortgage could be transferred or securitised.
AIB defends its action and says 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 says.
The bank explains that in line with common practice, it engages in what it calls “regular social listening, where we monitor social media trends and sentiment towards our brand on social media” and that it only examines publicly available social media data.
“We never analyse individual customer social media accounts or use our customer service or other social media data in any way to analyse individual customer behaviours,” adds AIB.