Identity theft is the UK's fastest growing crime. This section tells you exactly what to do if you have been a victim, and guides you through the process of restoring your identity.
It can happen to anyone. You receive a letter from a collection agency demanding that you pay past due accounts for a large mobile phone bill. The bank refuses your loan because of your history of bad payments. But you have always paid bills on time. What has happened?
You have become another victim of identity theft, UK's fastest growing crime. This occurs when someone has stolen your personal information and used it to impersonate you. It often takes many months before its devastating effects become apparent, often coming at a time when you most need a good credit rating, such as taking out a new mortgage or loan. The effects of an identity theft can have a devastating effect on your life in the following circumstances:
Fortunately, you now have a number of options to solve and even prevent your problems.
Identity crime is a generic term for identity theft, creating a false identity or committing identity fraud.
The most recent figure was published on 9 October 2008 and estimated the annual cost of identity fraud to the UK economy at £1.2 billion. It represents a best estimate of the scale of the problem at this time which captures available information. Typical of works of this nature, the estimate is likely to be conservative and actual cost may well be higher. Full details can be found.
It is estimated that 120,000 people are affected by identity theft in the UK each year.
(Source:The UK's Fraud Prevention Service. Figure is based on the number of cases of identity and impersonation fraud in 2004.)
Criminals commit identity theft by stealing your personal information and then pretending to be you. This is often done by taking documents from your rubbish or by making contact with you and pretending to be from a legitimate organisation.
Once a criminal has the information he or she needs, he or she could for example:
If you have been a victim of identity fraud and your card is still in your possession, you should not have to pay for anything bought on it without your permission (subject to the terms and conditions of your account). If your card has been lost or stolen, you will usually not have to pay, unless it can be shown that you have acted fraudulently or without reasonable care, for example by keeping your PIN number written down with your card. The same applies to any money lost through fraudulent bank transactions.