Details of more than 3,000 current and former employees of Birmingham City University were among 35,000 private health customer records stolen from a security van.
Personal information including their home addresses, dates of birth, claims details and scanned letters of correspondence were stored on a computer tape stolen from the van.
The tape containing the data was taken in April as a security firm transported them to the offices of Bristol-based private medical health insurance firm Medisure, which administrates high street pharmacy Boots’ health care schemes.
BCU last night sought to reassure present employers and those who have since left that they were not in danger of being victims of identity fraud.
“Birmingham City University was in constant contact with Medisure when details of the theft in early April emerged,” said a spokesman. “We were assured by Medisure that no bank account, National Insurance or salary details of current or former university staff were included in the stolen material.
“Our understanding is that it contained names, addresses and dates of birth, and that the format in which they were stored made the information very difficult to access.”
The university added its human resources department was on standby to support any staff who had further concerns. Medisure has written to all those affected at BCU and set up an information hotline for queries.
Jaime Wilson, managing director of Medisure, said in the letter: “I apologise for this unfortunate set of circumstances and we hope that this incident will not impact upon your views of the scheme which has been in operation with your employer for a considerable period of time.”
He claimed information on the tape was “stored in such a technically complicated way” that it could only be accessed with highly specialist IT equipment.
“It was not stored on standard software or CDs and cannot be used on any home-style PC or laptop. The police consider this to be an opportunistic theft rather than a premeditated operation.”
Britain has seen a raft of identity fraud scares over the last six months. The most spectacular occurred last November when the Government revealed computer discs containing confidential details of 25 million child benefit recipients had been lost.
A month later Local Government Minister Ruth Kelly announced the names, addresses and phone numbers of three million candidates set to take their driving theory test with the Driving Standards Agency had also gone missing.
In January a military laptop containing the details of 600,000 people was stolen from a Royal Navy officer’s car in Edgbaston.
Confidential papers listing children’s behavioural problems were found in a street, police said. The discarded documents were discovered on Sunday in Gorleston, Norfolk, after being stolen in a burglary, said a police spokeswoman.
They listed the ages, addresses and telephone numbers of a string of youngsters, plus details of crimes they had committed. Norfolk Police said the papers had been stolen from an NHS centre for children with special needs in the town.
About 20 documents were recovered nearby after members of the public reported the find, police said.