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21 November 2007

UK parents should seek compensation from the Govt over its breach of the Data Protection Act 1998, if they suffer any kind of damage from the loss of the child benefit database, says UK Parents Lounge.

"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 - whose subscribers are parents all over the country.

"The Information Commissioner's guidance is very clear regarding compensation for breaches of the Act. If you suffer damage because your data falls into the wrong hands, then you could seek compensation through the court."

If the child benefit database, containing the names, birthdates and addresses of 15 million children, falls into criminal hands, and families suffer financial or other damage, then compensation claims could run into millions.

Anti-fraud protection

UK Parents Lounge gives parents the following advice to protect themselves from fraud:

* Keep an eye on the bank account into which you receive your child benefit payments, if you receive them by direct credit. With your account number and sort code, fraudsters cannot withdraw money from your account, but there is always a chance they could try to fool bank security.

* Check all your mail. With your personal details, it would be possible for a fraudster to pretend to be you to open new bank accounts in your name, or to apply for credit cards. They would then run up debts and you would suffer the consequences. If you receive any mail from potential creditors that you do not recognise, investigate.

* Be extremely careful with any letters you receive from banks or other companies that ask you for personal information. A fraudster could, for example, send you a fake letter from your bank with a form asking for your signature, or other personal data like a password. The return address would be different from the bank's. Make sure you know that letters are genuine.

* Be wary of any phone calls from your bank. When they call, they ask you to give them identifying information to prove you are who they think you are, but they never prove who they are. If you want to be totally safe, tell them that you are not willing to speak to them over the phone and that you would rather go into your branch.

* Keep an eye on your bank statements. If you bank online, all the better because you can check your account daily if you are worried.

Claiming compensation

UK Parents Lounge also advises any parents that suffer damage from this data theft to contact either the Information Commissioner or their local Citizens Advice Bureau.

"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."


Notes for editors:

UK Parents Lounge is a leading UK portal for parents.

Steve Masters can be contacted on:

Mob: 07932 065767

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of UK Parents Lounge in the following categories: Children & Teenagers, Women's Interest & Beauty, for more information visit