Govt lost bank details of 25million people

The Government today admitted it has lost the bank and national insurance details of 25 million people.Chancellor Alistair Darling said two CDs containing the data had been lost in the post.

The Government today admitted it has lost the bank and national insurance details of 25 million people.

Chancellor Alistair Darling said two CDs containing the data had been lost in the post.

The details include names, addresses, dates of birth, Child Benefit numbers, National Insurance numbers and bank account

details.

Mr Darling said people should monitor their accounts for unusual transactions, but said there was no evidence that the information had so far fallen into the wrong hands.

Mr Darling told the House of Commons that a junior official at HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) had sent two CDs to the National Audit Office using the department's standard postal system, operated by TNT.

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That package never arrived.

The official then sent a second set of discs, this time using recorded delivery.

Mr Darling said: “I regard this as an extremely serious failure by HMRC in their responsibility to the public.''

“It is clear that the strict rules governing HMRC standing procedures were not followed.''

HMRC chairman Paul Gray has resigned over the affair today, but Mr Darling has resisted calls for him to quit.

The chancellor has asked the boss of auditors Price Waterhouse Coopers Kieran Poynter to review the HMRC's security and the Metropolitan Police are investigating the loss.

The information, which is password-protected, went missing on October 18, but the loss was not reported to managers until November 8. The chancellor was told two days later and the police were called in on November 14.

The government has been working with the banking industry over the last few days to mark accounts that may be at risk.

“There is no evidence this data has reached the wrong hands. there is no evidence of fraud or criminal activity. Banks and building societies are putting in place safeguards to protect people's accounts. No one will suffer any loss if they are an innocent victim of fraud,” said Mr Darling.

“If someone is the innocent victim of fraud as a result of this incident, people can be assured they have protection under the Banking Code so they will not suffer any financial loss as a result,” said Mr Darling.

The Conservatives said the errors proved the Government should abandon it's ID card scheme.

“They simply cannot be trusted with people's personal information,” said shadow chancellor George Osborne.