The latest embarrassment for the British government was revealed today in the House of Commons.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, stood before the House to inform the country that computer discs containing information about 25 million people had gone missing.
The computer discs, which store data concerning 7.25 million families in receipt of Child Benefit, offer a potential identity thief everything they could ever possibly need in order to assume the identity of any one of the people contained within the database.
The information held includes –
- Child benefit numbers
- National Insurance numbers
- Dates of Birth
- Bank/Building Society account numbers and sort codes
The two password protected discs were originally sent to the National Audit Office back in March by a junior official.
However, they never arrived and the disappearance was covered up not reported for 3 weeks.
While the Metropolitan Police continue to search for the discs, Mr Darling assures the nation that banks and building societies are aware and are monitoring accounts for suspicious activity.
How they intend to determine what is suspicious, or not, when the disc holds information on almost half the population of the UK, is unclear at this time.
With politics being what it is, Alistair Darling declined to resign.
However Paul Gray the chairman of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, who lost the discs, was scapegoated did the honourable thing.
Whilst banks monitoring accounts may offer some peace of mind in terms of immediate fraud, it does little to ease the concerns of long-term issues that may arise should the discs fall into the hands of identity thieves.
If anyone reading this in the UK has any concerns then there is an official Child Benefit helpline available – 0845 302 1444.
And be sure to recognise the signs of identity theft, just in case.