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On March 6, 2014, midnight
The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) has rejected a consumer group’s request to examine the extent of damage consumers suffered from recent data theft cases involving major financial firms here. The decision has triggered protests from victims. In early February, the Financial Consumer Agency asked the regulator to probe the banks and credit card firms concerned, claiming that the data leaks occurred due to their negligence. It also demanded measures to ensure that all victims get full compensation. The FSS, however, said it won’t investigate individual compensation issues. “We are already examining the theft cases. The banks and card firms will be punished depending on the results,” an FSS official said. “However, the probe will not be expanded into individual breach cases.” Cho Nam-hee, head of the advocacy group, criticized the FSS for neglecting to enhance consumers’ rights. “It was more than a month ago that we requested a probe into the data leaks. It now says it won’t accept our demand,” Cho said. “We simply don’t understand why the FSS is reluctant to address complaints from victims and resolve compensation issues. That’s disappointing.” The organization has also been active in protecting victims of fraudulent bond sales by Tongyang Group. The FSS earlier accepted its request for a probe into the fraud case. “The data theft cases affected the lives of many more people than the Tongyang case. The regulator should listen to the voices of the data theft victims,” Cho said. “The latest cases show financial firms are only obsessed with making money while paying little attention to protecting personal information about their customers.” Hundreds of people recently filed a class-action suit against the financial firms, demanding compensation. The firms include Standard Chartered Bank Korea, Citibank Korea, KB Kookmin Card, Lotte Card and NH NongHyup Bank.
The data theft cases are also being examined by the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI), the state auditor. Last week, a group of activists, led by the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, filed a complaint with the BAI to probe the regulators, claiming they were partly responsible for the information leaks. The auditor has accepted their demand and will decide whether to launch a formal audit as early as next week. The activists have demanded the resignation of Financial Services Commission Chairman Shin Je-yoon and FSS Governor Choi Soo-hyun concerning the case. The CEOs of three card issuers ― KB Kookmin, Lotte and NH NongHyup’s card division ― have all stepped down since the theft case surfaced in January. The regulators are facing criticism that they failed to properly monitor the firms.
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