A charity helping some of the poorest children in the world says it is "devastated" after becoming the latest victim of a mass data theft, putting some of its 90,000 UK donors potentially at risk from fraudsters. Supporters of Plan UK have been urged to "remain vigilant" as computer equipment containing donors' bank details was stolen during a burglary at the charity's London office on 22 November.
The charity, of which the Duke of Edinburgh is a patron, said servers containing names, addresses, contact details, bank account numbers and sort codes of its donors were taken in the theft. While Plan UK said no credit or debit card details were obtained, the charity has written to supporters warning them to be on their guard against potential fraud attempts.
A letter sent to supporters by Plan UK said the charity was "devastated" by the burglary, warning: "We cannot fully guarantee that there isn't a slight increased risk of supporters being open to fraud. We would strongly advise that you remain vigilant."
Unlike the TalkTalk data theft in October, which saw 157,000 customers' sensitive data stolen by hackers, the Plan UK data breach involved burglars physically forcing their way into a locked server room at its office near Old Street and taking computer equipment. The motive is unknown at this time and a police investigation is under way. The Information Commissioner's Office and Charity Commission have also been notified.
A spokesman for Plan UK, who said five computer servers were taken in the burglary, said: "We are contacting supporters to inform them of the situation and provide advice. Security measures on the data held means that obtaining the supporter information in these files would be very difficult."
The charity, which has been running for over 75 years, provides clean drinking water and education to children in developing countries. It has a number of celebrity backers, including Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt and TV presenter Esther Rantzen.
Any supporters with questions or concerns can contact the Plan UK supporter care line on 0300 777 9779, between 9am and 5pm.