According to the National Fraud Authority, identity theft costs now costs nearly £2bn and affects over 1.8 million people.
Through identity theft, fraudsters manage to get access to other people’s money and on average these thieves gain over £1,000 from every identity stolen.
Worryingly, according to CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, identity theft rose almost 10% in the first 9 months of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009.
Identity theft requires access to personal information, such as your name, address and bank details. It is vital this information is protected and taking a few simple steps can help, for example
- shred documents that contain your personal information
- regularly check your credit report
- protect yourself online – if making a payment make sure you are using a secure server, shown by a padlock icon in the bottom right hand corner of your screen
- if you move house, make sure you get your post redirected.
As well as fraud, according to Dr Bernard Herdan, chief executive of the NFA, the stolen identities are not just used for such as buying goods, opening bank accounts and obtaining state benefits. They are also used to help avoid police, and by people involved in people trafficking and terrorism.