After the recent fiasco regarding the loss of two CDs containing the personal details of twenty-five million people either claiming or receiving child benefits, a leading UK parents’ portal has recommended that concerned parents seek compensation from the British Government, for breach of the 1998 Data Protection Act.
“The Data Protection Act clearly states that a data controller must protect private individuals’ data from falling into the wrong hands,” said Steve Masters, editor of UK Parents Lounge.
More important is the advice already officially given to all parents:
1. Check the bank account into which child benefit is paid. Any transaction which seems unusual should be reported. There’s little a fraudster could do to the actual bank account with just its account number and sort code.
2. Check mail, as fraudsters could attempt to set up new credit agreements (for example, for a mobile phone or credit card) in your name.
3. Be vigilant with letters or phone calls claiming to come from your bank.
“Parents should not panic,” said Steve Masters. “This is not the first time Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has lost private data, and the chances of personal theft are low if we are all vigilant.”
“However, the chance of ID theft and credit fraud is very real. Many people’s credit reputations could be damaged as a result of fraudsters using parents’ data to open bank accounts and credit card accounts and then running up debts n the victim’s name.”
“Vigilance is the most important word, here.”