All our HMRC stories in one secure location
UK Identity Crisis Her Majesty's Customs and Revenue have demonstrated how important it is to keep track of all your important data.
So, inspired by their example, we've put all our stories on this week's data debacle in one secure location. Enjoy...
I have had exactly the same problem with the Revenue. About four years ago, I got a fine for two tax forms that hand't been filled in and returned. I called them up straight away and asked words to the effect of "what is going on? I've had no forms". I went through the whole "we sent them so you must have had them" thing, after they said they'd send them again and cancel the fines (which they did rather quickly, almost like it happens all the time) I asked where they'd sent the first forms, they wouldn't tell me directly, so I listed all of the addresses I'd lived in, it turned out that they'd sent them to an address I lived at 7 years previously, but they managed to send the fines to the correct address. Funny that. The Revenue person couldn't explain how that had happened.
More tales of HMRC incompetence
Here's another two to add to the pile:
In 2002 HMRC (then the Inland Revenue) contacted me to ask me to fax to them copies of some of my tax records from previous years, including a P60 (my end-of-year tax certificate). The reason? They were sorry but they'd "lost my files".
In 2007 HMRC was contacted by me with regard to a P85 (migration notice) that I'd sent them. This was "never received", they told me. But they must have received it, I told them: "you have my correct new address on record and the only way you could have that is if you got the P85". "I hear you, but we don't tend to lose things," the operator maintained.
@ Anonymous Coward
"Why are they even sending physical media?
They could avoid have avoided the entire mess by following these 3 steps:
Compress : Zip or tar.gz
Encrypt : using openPGP or equivalent
SFTP to the destination... Email is NOT for file tranfser.
Simple and cheap enough that even the startups I've worked for can afford it."
Well the problem is that encrypted files cannot be readily scanned for viruses, so they don't get through the firewalls on the GSI. National Audit Office are of course not on the GSI anyway, and I doubt this could be considered 'RESTRICTED' in anycase (GSI is only cleared up to that level).
Of course, if we had a proper distributed system with secure electronic identities for citizens and administrators, then there would be no need for a department like HMRC to hold most of this information; they could ask the national department of payments to pay x to citizen y, but becuase no government systems talk to each other, and there are no national registers of people you have each department holding vast quantities of data they don't need.
Still, plenty still to follow on this story