Bank details of employees stolen

September 16, 2007

A MAJOR security operation is underway after private financial details of more than 1,000 employees at a Suffolk council were stolen from the home of one of its senior officers.

Bank and national insurance details of 1,380 people on St Edmundsbury Borough Council's payroll were stored on a laptop computer stolen from the home of a council worker on September 6.

An investigation is currently underway and all employees are being urged to check their bank accounts on a daily basis amid fears over fraud.

A letter was sent out to staff and members last Wednesday - nearly a week after the theft - and the council's human resources team has been working around the clock to put additional security measures in place to protect its employees from fraud.

Members at the Tory-run council now want to know why such sensitive information was taken home by a member of staff.

Real Independent councillor David Nettleton said: .There will have to be a big inquiry. We are all on the system; it is a lot of people..

Labour group leader Mark Ereira-Guyer said: .There are going to be a lot of questions and this will run and run. The thief will have a lot of information about a lot of people. My main concern is identity theft..

One of the workers affected added: .This is absolutely appalling and we are all so worried about this..

Paul Farmer, the council's portfolio holder responsible for resources, said: .As soon as we found out we took immediate action. We want to apologise to all of those affected and we are doing everything to mitigate the effects of this..

A spokeswoman for the council said: .The police have been informed of the crime and all those affected have been notified.

"We have been advised that there is a very low risk of the stolen information being used but have urged everyone to be vigilant. The guidance we have received about identity fraud has been passed on.

"We have also registered all those affected with the CIFAS Protective Registration scheme. This means that if anyone tries to use the information taken from the laptop they will not be able to access credit or services because extra security information would be required.

"We will be carrying out an investigation into the matter but the laptop was being used at a member of staff's home for legitimate purposes - we have a flexible working policy which encourages staff to work at home.

"However, we do also have clear security procedures about what can and cannot be stored on computers away from our offices. The laptop was taken during a burglary and part of the investigation will be to look into breaches of security and what action needs to be taken in the future to ensure this does not happen again."

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police confirmed it was investigating the burglary.

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