Darling blamed for systematic failures leading to identity fraud fears

22 November 2007
The junior official who sent out two discs containing millions of people's personal and bank details may face the sack; however, many people are urging Chancellor Alistair Darling to accept responsibility for the fiasco.

The discs contained approximately 25 million people's personal details were reported missing after the HM Revenue and Customs employee sent them out by courier last month. A police search failed to recover the package, which could put millions of people in the UK at risk of identity fraud.

And, according to reports, the department has breached security measures more than 2,100 times in the past year. "I profoundly regret and apologise for the inconvenience and worries that have been caused to millions of families who receive child benefit," Gordon Brown said on November 21.

Conservative leader David Cameron said: "Millions of people today will be worrying about the safety of their bank accounts and the security of their family details". He added: "But they will not just be worried, they will be angry that the government has failed in its first duty to protect the public." The Conservatives are also claiming that senior officials were involved in the breach.

Data on the lost discs includes names, addresses and dates of birth, national insurance numbers, names, gender and ages of children and bank account details. The Prime Minister has ordered a review of data safety in Government departments and has agreed to allow spot checks to ensure data was safe.

Despite this, there has been an understandable rise in calls from bank customers wishing to change passwords, although only a small number rushed to close accounts altogether. Many also called to inquire whether they were likely to become victims of identity fraud, and to find out how to improve account security.

Lloyds TSB has come under fire for advising customers who are afraid they may become fraud victims to purchase identity insurance. Apacs said: "There's no need to take out insurance. If you're an innocent victim of ID fraud you are already covered by your bank and you will be refunded." It advised people to be vigilant and to check statements for any suspicious activity. Obtaining a credit report is another way of checking for bogus activity on accounts.

Find out how to detect identity fraud and get a free Experian credit report

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