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HMRC database used by junk mailers

Taxpayers' personal details may have fallen into the hands of a list broker and sold to junk mailers. The Information Commissioner's Office has said it will investigate the case of 'Margaret Margaret'.

The allegation is made in the Daily Telegraph. The paper has learnt that a woman from Bedfordshire started receiving junk mail wrongly addressed to "Susan Margaret Margaret". The incorrect name appeared only on HM Revenue & Customs' database and it is feared that the database, containing the personal details of millions of taxpayers, may have been sold to junk mailers.

The organisations who targeted "Margaret Margaret" are Direct Line, Churchill Home Insurance, Sun Life Direct, Sky, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Salvation Army, and the Dogs Trust. The Telegraph has established that the database containing the incorrect name has been sold to at least three of the seven organisations. The paper has not revealed the name of the list broker as it not yet known how it obtained the database.

A spokesperson for the Information Commissioner's Office told the Telegraph that it will be "seeking to clarify what has happened with HMRC next week". HMRC told the Telegraph that it will respond to the allegation in due course.

In 2007, HMRC lost the details of 25 million people. The data protection scandal led to a review by the Information Commissioner into how personal data is handled by both Government agencies and the private sector. One of the recommendations made in the Data Sharing Review was the abolishment of the Edited Electoral Register. A public consultation on this recommendation closed in February and a response from the Government is expected this month.

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Last updated: 
14th May 2011