Identity Theft in the UK
Cases of identity theft in the UK have grown at an alarming rate in recent years. The effects of identity theft
are far reaching and can take months and even years to correct. There is also evidence of links with organised
crime, especially in the trafficking of illegal immigrants. These people need new identities and what better way to
do it than steal another persons identity. It can be also be very difficult to identify the criminal in these kinds
of theft situations.
UK Government estimates put the cost of identity theft in the UK at around 1.3 billion pounds per year which
accounts for 10% of all fraud committed over the same period.
Many people think of identity theft only in situations where a credit card has been used to purchase goods or
services without the knowledge of the account holder. However, while this is one of the ways that a person’s
identity can be stolen there are many other ways that a person can use a stolen identity.
Known as dumpster diving in the US, would be identity thieves routinely rummage through dustbins to look for
information that can be used to steal your identity. With the right information, they can then open accounts or
take out loans in your name.
The answer to this problem is to invest in a paper shredder and always shred anything that may have any of your
personal details on. Documents such as bank statements, credit card receipts or pre approved credit card offers. In
fact, anything that has your name and address on should ideally be shredded
Would be identity thieves gather details about your credit card account by looking at discarded receipts or
statements. They will then change the address details, order new cards and then charge your credit card account up
to its limit.
Once again, the answer is to shred all statements and receipts before throwing them in the bin. Also, make sure
that your credit card statements arrive when they should and if not, notify your credit card company
Credit Card Skimming
This is where the criminal will use something called a skimmer to copy your card details electronically.
The answer to this type of theft is to never let your card out of your sight and always reconcile your credit
card statements with the receipts. If you come across any transactions that do not tally, notify the card issuer
Scam emails that are sent out purporting to be from your bank or credit card company asking you to update your
personal security details such your password or personal identification number (PIN).
In all cases, you should delete the email immediately and never click on any links in that email. Always
remember that your bank or any other financial service will never ask you for these details
Deceased Person Fraud
As offensive as it may seem, there are would be identity thieves out there that scan the obituary columns of
newspapers in order to gather details of deceased persons. They then build up paperwork and other information to
apply for identity documents.
Although difficult to tackle, the ultimate answer is not to put death notices into local papers.
It is important to be aware of all the different ways that identity theft can occur. Awareness will help you to
take the necessary actions and hopefully prevent identity theft happening to you.