Jan 24 2011

HMRC Security cock-up Pt2

Today I finally got around to calling HMRC back. It’s been a frustrating and rushed week with my insurance renewel and some family matters that’s put it off ’til now.

At the suggestion of several friends I called up HMRC rather than the lady whose details they’ve sent me. After 10-15 minutes on hold I got to speak to an advisor, who rapidly put me on hold again when I told them what the problem was. They came back on sounding scared, like they didn’t want to get any more of this on themselves than they could avoid. Perhaps it was my mention that I knew this violated data-protection laws?

They took some of my details, and the details on the incorrect paperwork. Then I was told I had to send it back to them so there could be an investigation.

All well and good? Well, no. The next bit went something like;

Them: “Do you still have the envelope it came in?”

Me: “Yes?”

Them: “Okay, just put it back in there and post it back to us.”

First, the envelope in question is a generic brown windowed envelope, which if I simply replace the documents in will display my address, and possibly be returned back to me again. It is also a used budget-end envelope, with the associated creases and tears from one trip, as well as an existing electronic routing stamp which I worry might furthur confuse it’s transit through the postal system.

Most importantly though, the address I was told to send it to was simply “HMRC” at The Triad in Bootle. No cover-letter, no special department. Just mine and someone elses information being tossed back to them with no reference or alert that it is actually the solitary evidence of their criminal cock-up.

Don’t letters returned to sender as-is usually get binned, or get marked as having been sent to invalid addresses? And with no tracking there’s nothing to stop this sole evidence simply disappearing the moment it’s in the post box.

They assured me the lady in question would be notified of the cock-up, they said, since her information is at risk here. Well let’s be sure of that.

Underwhelmed by their reaction, I called the lady concerned myself anyway to let her know. She fortunately seemed pretty up to speed on these sort of things, and I left her my email and mobile number to contact me on if they do or don’t contact her themselves. I also explained what my own course of action will be;

1) I will photograph the evidence

2) I will photograph my placing it in a new envelope with cover-letter

3) I will send it back to HMRC tomorrow by 1st Class Signed for so I can be sure of it’s receipt.

I will document it at each of these stages, and hopefully this will go a long way to preventing it from being conveniently lost or overlooked.

Will HMRC do things by the book when the proof is most definitely back in their hands? Stay tuned to find out!

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