The HMRC published an apology on its website.
Research conducted by IT security and control firm Sophos has
revealed that most of the British public polled are unsurprised by
their government losing confidential information on 25 million
people, that could be used by identity thieves.
Last week it was revealed
that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) had lost CDs
containing personal data, with all information on all British
families with children under the age of 16. The CDS went missing
after they were sent from the HMRC to the National Audit
58% of the over 350 people polled described the data loss as
"inevitable" and said they felt that the government was being
careless with data. Less than a third of people said they were
shocked that the data breach had happened.
Data contained on the two lost CDs includes parents' and
children's names, dates of birth, addresses, National Insurance
numbers and details of the bank or building society accounts into
which Child Benefit is paid.
The UK Government has announced that Her
Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HRMC) has lost personal details on
25 million people, including bank account information. What's your
|I'm shocked that this
could have happened
|I'm not surprised that
governments treat data carelessly, it's inevitable
|I don't care
Source: Sophos online poll, November 2007, 354
"The HMRC's data loss isn't just incompetence on a grand scale,
for the individuals affected by the ID theft it can be financially
crippling. If criminals get their claws on your personal
information they could make a significant impact on your bank
balance and credit rating," said Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant for Sophos. "Governments need to work hard to
reassure voters that they are taking all necessary measures to
ensure data is always kept securely. This study shows that public
feeling on this issue is strong, and that embarrassing and
potentially dangerous incidents like the one last week only further
damage the trust that people need to have in the guardians of their
In separate research published
this month, Sophos revealed that 85% of the public lacked
confidence in the security systems of their local government.
How can you tell if you are a victim of identity theft?
- You stop receiving bills or other mail; this could suggest that
an identity thief has given a different address in place of your
- You start receiving credit cards for which you did not
- You are denied credit for no obvious reason
- You receive calls from debt collectors about items you did not
- When checking your credit history you see items you do not
- Your bank statements include withdrawals, payments and money
transfers for which you cannot account
For more information visit the British Home Office's Identity
Theft website at www.identity-theft.org.uk.
The HMRC has set up a telephone hotline on 0845 302 1444 for people
who want further information.
Disclaimer: Please bear in mind that this poll is not
scientific and is provided for information purposes only. Sophos
makes no guarantees about the accuracy of the results other than
that they reflect the choices of the users who participated.