The latest CD losses from the HMRC have highlighted to me just how wrong this is being reported in the media. ID Theft Protect champions consumer interests but to be honest we feel that certain simple facts need to be discussed.
Here are those facts we know about:
- no identity theft has happened
- no identity fraud has happened
- the CD’s have gone missing
- they may be still on HMRC property
- the CD’s were lost some 4 weeks ago
- the CD’s should have been encrypted and not just password protected
- the CD’s need not have contained address, bank or parent details as highlighted by the NAO (UK National Audit Office)
- 7.25million families could be affected by identity theft
- it all comes down to saving money
- the cost of this data breach will (even if the discs are found) will be unknown for years!
Is this data loss identity fraud?
Ok, is this identity fraud? Absolutely NOT! Everyone is completely wrong in the way this is being reported. No identity fraud has occurred here – there is though a potential for identity theft.
The big question is ‘could identity theft happen?’
The big answer is YES!. However lets step back for a moment. What is identity theft? This is when information is obtained about you. It doesn’t matter how or where the information is found about you (and remember here in the UK it is not a criminal offence to have someone else’s information) – it’s what is done with your information that matters!
Remember you provide information about yourself on a daily basis, whether it is opening a bank account, using your credit or debit card, moving home and paying your mortgage and utility bills. Furthermore marketing companies, financial institutions and credit reference agencies to name a few, have more information on you and your family than you know about yourself!
Now if someone uses the HMRC information to commit financial fraud or assume your identity (normally for a short period of time and then the fraudster will move on to another victim) this is when ‘Identity Fraud’ has taken place.
Future concerns…. I’d suggest you worry not now but in the months and years to come…
We will not know whether identity theft or identity fraud has happened for weeks, months or maybe years from now – even if the CD’s are found. Currently there is no evidence to suggest identity theft has happened. If the data is found, we will be unable to determine whether the CD’s have been copied or printed, unless that is we have access to the computer used to copy or print the data.
If the CD’s are found at an HMRC building then we can all breath a big sigh of relief. I suggest NOT! Why? As I said before, it could be someone has copied the data – best plan would be for the potential fraudster to lay low for months or longer and prepare to engage in a ‘profile grab’ of some of the 7.25 million families listed. It’s a full time job for the identity fraudster – but one that will bear the fruits of ones labour!
For those of you who want to learn more about identity theft/fraud I suggest you join up with ID Theft Protect. It is FREE to register with us and you will learn a lot and understand that it is very very simple to protect you and your family’s identity from this latest data breach.
I’ll leave all our members and visitors with this important thought:
‘The Fraudster should be afraid of ID Theft Protect. It is not our position to be afraid of the fraudster – we want to protect consumer interests – and only consumer interests!’
Source: ID Theft Protect (c)