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UK.Gov admits huge ID cock-up

Two computer disks (opens in new tab) containing the details of all families in the UK with one or more children under 16 who are Child Benefit recipients have been "lost" by courier TNT.

The BBC also revealed that the item was shipped by a junior member of staff of the HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) and that the case was kept from public knowledge for nearly six weeks.

They also revealed that at least one person's bank account was raided early November after someone convinced their bank to do so based on Child Benefits details, although it is not known whether this is directly related to the computer disks

Sensitive information concerning 25 million British citizens are feared to have fallen in the wrong hands, although Chancellor Alistair Darling said that there's nothing to fear.

Ironically the data was to be used by the Audit department to identify those in the Child Benefit recipients who are benefit fraudsters.

Banks are particularly wary because they would be at the receiving end as their customers would have protection under the banking code so they would not suffer any financial loss as a result.

The HMRC has set up a paid telephone helpline for those who want more details on 0845 302 1444 and has urged people to monitor their bank accounts for unusual activity.

Already some Ebayers have poked fun at the shambles and posted a few CDROMs on the auction site (opens in new tab).

Désiré Athow
Contributor

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.