Identity thieves may have stolen a higher number of personnel records in a growing fraud case that has seen the use of those records to illegally route tax credits to their bank accounts, British government officials said Tuesday.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said earlier this month the identities of around 1,500 employees may have been compromised, but that figure is now believed to be “higher,” said a spokeswoman for the agency. Employees who worked for the agency’s Jobcentre Plus service, which helps find work for the unemployed, were affected.
About 13,000 people worked for that service throughout the U.K. at the time of the theft, she said, and investigators are trying to determine whose identities were taken.
She said there is no evidence the agency’s IT systems were breached but could not comment further on how the information was stored. DWP has its own special powers to conduct criminal investigations, she said.
The information, however, is being used in attempts to wrongfully claim tax credits from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the U.K. tax authority, according to a spokesman there. Earlier this month, HMRC shut down a tax credits Web portal after it identified fraud attempts during compliance checks.