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Civil service apologises for HMRC data loss

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UK Identity Crisis Everyone whose information was included on the two CDs of child benefit recipients which the government lost should have received a written apology this morning.

The letter - from Dave Hartnett, acting chairman of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs - apologises for the loss and claims: "The copy of the data is still likely to be on Government property. The police are now conducting a search, there is no evidence that it is in the possession of anyone else."

The loss of two CDs containing 25m records including names, addresses and bank details is the UK's, and probably the world's, largest ever data loss.

The letter warns people to contact their bank if they receive unexpected bills, invoices or receipts.

People who use their child's name or data of birth for a password are advised to change it. Otherwise, the letter says, there is no need for people to contact their bank or building society.

The letter ends: "I would like to offer my personal apologies for any worry or concern this data loss may cause you. And I can assure you that all efforts are being made to ensure that such a loss can never happen again."

Today also saw the release of the terms of reference of Kieran Poynter's investigation into the data disaster.

Poynter will investigate:

"HMRC practices and procedures in the handling and transfer of confidential data on taxpayers and benefit/credit recipients; the processes for ensuring that these procedures are communicated to staff and the safeguards in place to ensure they are adhered to; the reasons why these failed to prevent the loss of confidential data; whether these procedures and processes are sufficient to ensure the confidentiality of personal data."

The initial report will be handed in 14 December with the final report looking at wider implications being ready by Spring.

More from HMRC here.

A spokesman for HMRC told us this morning that police searches for the missing discs were continuing. ®

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