A survey by Which? has claimed that banks regularly break data protection rules.

A Freedom of Information Act request to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) revealed that there were 515 complaints lodged about data protection breaches by eight of Britain's biggest banks and building societies between August 2009 and August 2010.

The findings revealed that Barclays was the bank with the most breaches with 116 complaints, followed by Lloyds TSB with 114 and Santander with 103. The report said that over half of all complaints arose from firms failing to provide customers with copies of the data held about them properly. Other 'potential' breaches included banks holding inaccurate data about customers, failing to follow security measures and the disclosure of data to third parties.

However Steve Brunswick, strategy manager at Thales e-Security, said that he found the report to be quite misleading, as it focuses on the complaints about breaches, which is not the same thing.

“Also, roughly speaking, the biggest banks received the most complaints. Again, no surprise there, they have more customers,” he said.

“Not only are complaints about breaches very different to actual breaches, but over half of those complaints were about firms 'failing to properly provide customers with copies of the data held about them'. This is not a data breach at all.

"Whilst these findings are interesting, the figures don't tell us anything about the state of data protection in the industry. Banks take the protection of their customers' sensitive information very seriously and constantly evaluate their data security defences and procedures in order to protect themselves against the possibility of data breaches."