News that the details of some 25 million Britons have gone astray in the post due to an error will come as a massive concern to people whose personal data is now in danger of being used fraudulently.
Widely reported, recently confidential information on two CDs that were not encrypted were posted by an employee at the HM Revenue & Customs office in Washington, Tyne & Wear. The CDs subsequently disappeared and have not been traced.
Once again it highlights that despite efforts to ensure that such highly sensitive data is handled securely, a simple mistake can cause widespread national panic and alarm.
Paul Simms, CEO of the 3rd Man, a fraud protection specialist, said: "The extent to which it causes problems largely depends on where the CDs turn up. If they are already below several feet of rubbish then it's unlikely to cause any difficulties, of course. On the other hand, if they were to end up in the hands of organised criminals, this poses serious issues but only to a certain degree.
"There is concern that fraudsters would use the information to attack bank accounts and obtain credit card details to steal from other third parties such as retailers.
"The majority of retailers are well aware of the dangers of fraud, and have been for some time, but it's no longer a massive problem for those who already protect themselves through monitoring schemes. So even if your details have been obtained, the chances are that fraudulent activity will be monitored and prevented, especially if a retailer is part of a monitoring scheme such as SuperSearch.
"The most alarming thing in all of this is that such personal information is available to download from a PC onto a disk. This won't be the last time this happens, I'm sure, so it's important that we're able to deal with the consequences of such idiocy and compromises in security, as well as those which are intended to be fraudulent."
Earlier this month, the 3rd Man Group, which specialises in protecting retailers and consumers from card not present (CNP) fraud, acquired online credit card fraud company, Early Warning UK. By adding Early Warning's unique CardAware database to the 3rd Man's SuperSearch system, which enables retailers to share information on high risk transactions, the move will provide on-line traders with the UK's single most powerful fraud protection service.
About The 3rd Man
The 3rd Man provides card not present fraud screening, card fraud analysis and consultancy services to some of the UK's leading retailers, including JJB Sports, Halfords and Ticketmaster.
The company reliably detects in excess of 95% of fraudulent attempts including organised and casual fraud.
The 3rd Man also provides its GateKeeper secure online data reporting and analysis tool that enables clients to search for and display transactional information instantly, performing complex analysis to identify fraud rings quickly.