Thousands of employees at Worcestershire County Council are demanding answers after being told they are in danger of becoming victims of identity fraud following the theft of a laptop containing their bank and national insurance details.The PC, which stored the data of more than 16,000 members of staff, was snatched from an employee of the council’s IT supplier, Serco, in a street robbery.
“It is an enormous concern to those staff involved, and we are telling them to be extra vigilant when it comes to looking at their bank accounts,” said Jackie Alderson, head of communications at the council.
Serco has not said exactly when the theft took place, but it could have been as long as two weeks ago. The council has already sent out letters to those workers affected, apologising for the breach and outlining the security measures they need to take.
In a separate incident, it has been revealed that thieves have stolen 55 computers from the homes and offices of civil servants in Northern Ireland during a nine year campaign.
The robbers took £61,000 worth of equipment from across the administration leaving many to suspect that they could become the victim of identity fraud. A Conservative MP uncovered the information during a parliamentary session.
“I think this displays considerable carelessness and we need answers about how so many computers have gone missing,” said Northern Ireland Office spokesperson David Lidington.
“We need to know what information was on there. Was it security sensitive and did it include personal data, names and addresses of individuals? Any department could have information useful to identity fraudsters,” he added.
However, a spokesperson for the department of finance and personnel, insisted that nothing of a confidential nature was contained on any of the machines and all the laptops were password protected.
Earlier this month, the Nationwide building society was fined almost £1 million for security breaches after a laptop was stolen from an employee’s home last year. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) found that Nationwide had failed to put in place “adequate information security procedures and controls” and, as a result, had exposed its customers to the risk of financial crime.