What has happened in the banking world?
A group of prominent banks is facing a hefty financial blow after their employees were caught exchanging official business messages covertly on apps like Signal, WhatsApp, and iMessage.
Federal agencies have swung into action, accusing these banks of violating laws mandating the retention of records for all business-related discussions.
In a joint move, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have imposed a collective fine of $549 million on 11 financial firms.
The SEC has labeled this as a response to the “long-standing and widespread failures by the firms and their employees to maintain and preserve electronic communications.”
What were the consequences of this stealthy texting?
Taking the biggest hit, Wells Fargo has agreed to pay a whopping $125 million penalty to the SEC and an additional $75 million to the CFTC.
Other banks in the hot seat, including Bank of Montreal, BMO Capital Markets Corp., BNP Paribas, Houlihan Lokey Capital, Inc., Mizuho Securities USA, Moelis & Company LLC, SMBC Nikko Securities America, Inc., Société Générale, and Wedbush Securities Inc., are facing fines ranging from $9 million to $75 million.
According to the SEC’s findings, “employees at multiple levels of authority, including supervisors and senior executives,” within all 11 firms, have been discreetly discussing bank affairs via personal text messages since at least 2019. The CFTC estimated that even within the four fined firms, there have likely been hundreds, if not thousands, of business-related conversations that went unrecorded.
These “unauthorized communications” took place “through various messaging platforms on their personal devices, including iMessage, WhatsApp, and Signal,” as detailed in the SEC’s report.
Are there ways to text more safely?
The banking execs would have been smart to look around and see that there are online services, offering to send texts online.
Sending texts online would have saved them the traceability as it can be done completely anonymously and safely.
From anywhere in the world, with an internet connection, you can access these services and without having to attach your own phone number to it, send a text to anyone anywhere in the world.
Different than with online messaging apps, these services are not connected to your service provider and do not have your personal details.
Whether it is for one-time use, or a daily provider, online texting services can be an outcome for anyone looking to send a message securely.