Pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip accidentally revealed her Hong Kong identity card number on social media, which could invite fraudsters to misuse it for purposes such as changing her voter registration details.
On Monday, Ip posted results of her intestinal examination on Facebook to show that she was healthy enough “to continue serving the public for a long time to come.” The post was later removed and Ip’s assistant apologised for the mistake in a separate post.
An HKID number could be used as a form of authentication on many occasions, such as when paying phone bills and changing one’s voter registration details.
Ip, former security minister, had her email account hacked in February this year. Her digital signature was forged to withdraw HK$500,000 from her own bank account.
Exposing one’s HKID number to the public could potentially invite fraudsters to take advantage of the details. It could be especially problematic for lawmakers, whose personal details such as residential addresses are also public in the government’s gazette.
With Ip’s HKID number, residential address and signature, it is possible to submit an application to the Registration and Electoral Office to change her voter details.
Imposters could make her a voter in another district, or cancel her registration as an elector in the District Council (Second) functional constituency.
Earlier this month, local media reported that a voter’s details were changed without his knowledge.
Reports by shareholder activist David Webb, owner of the Webb-site, showed that many banks and service providers—including phone operators, paid TV operators and utility companies—use HKID numbers to verify customers’ identity.
Webb said that the Hong Kong government was essentially “encouraging the abuse of HKIDs.” He pointed out that HKID card numbers should not be used as an authenticator as there is no way to verify whether it is the real card holder or an imposter.