Some Internet banking customers at First Virginia Banks Inc. got a surprise last Friday morning: Details of other First Virginia online accounts appeared in their account summaries.

Richard F. Bowman, chief financial officer of $9.4 billion-asset First Virginia in Falls Church, said no sensitive information such as names, account numbers, balances, or Social Security numbers was exposed.

A report on Friday said otherwise.

The CNET News report - which Mr. Bowman says was riddled with inaccuracies - said some First Virginia customers "were able to see the deposits, balances, and cleared checks of the bank's other customers." However, the only First Virginia official it quoted seemed to contradict that.

Jeff Tansill, a senior vice president at First Virginia Services, a data management subsidiary of the bank, told CNET that " actual balances were not affected, nor was any of the customers' personal identifying information breached." First Virginia denied in the report that cleared checks were revealed.

Speaking on Friday with American Banker, Mr. Bowman said: "There was a lot of information about individual transactions. A line would have the word 'deposit' and an amount next to it, or 'withdrawal' and another amount. In no way was anyone able to divine any information about someone else's account." The problem "affected a number of accounts," he said.

Mr. Bowman said the problem was caused by a programming error, started at 6:30 a.m. eastern time, and was fixed three hours later.

He dismissed as "tripe" CNET's report that that First Virginia's call center was besieged with calls from angry customers.

"One person called in," he said.

Several banks have come under fire lately in privacy matters. In two more recent examples, Charter Pacific Bank in Agoura Hills, Calif., was roundly criticized this month for selling customer data to the operators of a pornographic Web site, and in August U.S. Bancorp agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle a lawsuit charging that it had shared client data with a marketing firm.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.