Britain needs to tighten up on ID fraud as another security gaff is reported

27 November 2007
The loss of the personal details of 25 million parents and children last week has shaken many UK consumers and brought fresh worries about the reality of becoming victims of identity fraud.

Following the gaffes by the Revenue and Customs department last week, it has come to light that this is the second such example of lost data in the last two years, and despite promises of an overhaul of the security system by HMRC, little has been done.

Mirroring last week's fiasco, a CD belonging to the bank, UBS Laing and Cruickshank which contained highly sensitive details such as names, addresses, National Insurance numbers, bank details and information on retirement savings was lost after Revenue and Customs sent it by post.

According to letters leaked to The Daily Mail, Revenue and Customs had to issue an apology to the bank after losing the CD containing sensitive financial information on its clients.

Opposition MPs have seized on the latest revelations and called for Chancellor, Alistair Darling's resignation. Speaking to reporters, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said: "The pressure on Alistair Darling to come before Parliament and explain himself builds by the day.

"We now discover evidence of personal data being lost two years ago and a promise at the time from HMRC to fix the problem. This all points to a wider systemic failure in the department that Gordon Brown ran for ten years."

Now a second establishment has lost the personal details of employees, highlighting the fact that private organisations as well as public ones are open to security slip ups.

Abbott, the £40 billion pharmaceutical giant based in Maidenhead, Berkshire, is the latest organisation to lose highly sensitive data after details of ex and current UK employees containing names, bank account information and National Insurance numbers were lost while being transported from CMG Logica, the company employed to manage the payroll, to the firm's head office in Queenborough, Kent.

The package, which went missing last week, was in the care of a secure recorded courier delivery service and despite being fitted with a tracking device; there is still no sign of the illusive data.

A spokesman said: " Last week a number of Abbott employee paper records went missing in transit from its third party payroll provider, Logica CMG, to Abbott’s payroll office in Queenborough, despite a secure recorded delivery system.

"Abbott and Logica CMG are conducting a full and thorough investigation to establish the whereabouts of the missing records, and we have informed the police as a precautionary measure.

"At this point in time, there is no reason to suspect that the records have been stolen or that any employee information has been compromised."

Banking organisations say that while the missing names, dates of birth, addresses and National Insurance Numbers on a couple of HM Revenue and Customs computer discs are not in themselves enough for fraudsters to be able to crack into bank accounts. However this does nothing to bolster consumer confidence in both the Government and private organisations who appear to be reckless in their management of personal data.

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