Home Office Shredding Identity Theft
|9/7/2005 – A leaflet to advise the public on how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and what action to take if you have been a victim was launched today by Home Office Minister Andy Burnham.
More than 100,000 people are affected by this crime every year in the UK. It occurs when personal information is obtained by someone else without the owner’s knowledge. It may support criminal activity including fraud, deception, or obtaining benefits and services in the victim’s name.
Shredding personal documents such as bills, receipts and bank statements is one way people can reduce the risk of falling victim to fraudsters and an estimated one million personal shredders are sold each year as a result of public concern about identity fraud. This is a dramatic increase on previous years and other organisations are being encouraged to reinforce the message that simple steps can help the public protect themselves from identity fraud.
Andy Burnham said:
“Criminals can use stolen personal details to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, loans, state benefits and other documents in your name – and if your identity is stolen it can take a long time to put your records and your life straight.
“The Government’s plans to introduce a National Identity Cards scheme will help individuals to prove their identity and protect it from being misused or stolen by criminals.”
Paul Marsh, Director of Cards and Fraud Control Division at APACS and deputy chair of the Home Office Identity Fraud Steering Committee, said:
“Consumers are the front line defence from the risks of identity theft and fraud, and by following the advice provided in this new publication they can significantly reduce the chance of being a victim.
“This coordinated campaign through the Home Office Identity Fraud Consumer Awareness Group is another good example of the public and private sectors working together to provide a unified front against the menace of identity fraud.”
The leaflet advises that you may be at risk of becoming a victim of identity fraud if you:
lose or have had important documents stolen such as passports or driving licences;
items appearing on your bank or credit-card statements that you do not recognise;
Notes to Editors
The leaflet ‘Identity Theft – Don’t become a victim’ gives simple, practical advice about how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, what to do if you think you might be a victim and details of where to go for help and support. The leaflet was produced by the Home Office Identity Fraud Steering Committee.
Guidance to prevent identity theft is also available at http://www.identity-theft.org.uk. The website was launched in July 2004.
Using data supplied by CIFAS, credit reference agency Experian identified those people most likely to be a victim of identity fraud. Key findings from the study included:
young professionals and “middle-aged families” living in central London with office and service jobs are twice as likely to be victims of identity fraud;
The Identity Fraud Consumer Awareness Group is a sub-group of the IFSC. As well as representatives from the Home Office and law enforcement agencies, the group comprises members from: APACS; the British Bankers Association; CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service; the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency; the Financial Services Authority; Royal Mail and the UK Passport Service.
As part of the Identity Cards programme, the Committee is involved in co-ordinating existing activity in the public and private sectors, and identifying new projects and initiatives to reduce identity fraud. It includes:
Improving the understanding of the level of identity fraud in this country and estimating its cost to the UK economy;
A draft Identity Cards Bill was published on 26 April 2004 (Home Office press notice 159/2004). The Home Affairs Select Committee published its pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Identity Cards Bill on 30 July 2004 and the Government responded on 27 October 2004 (Home Office press notice 331/2004).
The previous Identity Cards Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 29 November 2004 and received its second reading in the House of Lords on 21 March 2005. The Bill did not receive Royal Assent by the date when Parliament was dissolved on 11 April 2005.
The Identity Cards Bill was reintroduced in the House of Commons on 25 May 2005 and completed its Committee Stage on 21 July 2005. It is expected to have its Third Reading in the House of Commons in the Autumn.
Identity cards will help tackle the type of serious and organised crime which depends on being able to use false identities – terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud through ID theft, and illegal working and immigration.