Scheme targets identity theft

Credit reference agency Callcredit has teamed up with the Home Office in an initiative to combat the growing problem of identity theft.

The agency is to distribute Home Office leaflets to consumers throughout the country advising them on how to avoid becoming victims of identity theft and what action to take if they do fall victim to it.

Identity theft affects more than 100,000 people every year in this country. It occurs when personal information is obtained by someone without the owner’s knowledge and typically leads to fraud, deception, or the obtaining of benefits and services in the victim’s name. Government estimates put the cost to the economy at more than 1.3bn a year.

As part of the initiative, Callcredit is also offering a free month’s trial of its MyCallcredit e-alert credit monitoring service which gives consumers an early warning of potential identity theft.

Home Office minister Andy Burnham says: “Credit reference agencies play a key role in detecting and preventing identity fraud.”

Alison Nicholson, director of MyCallcredit, says: “There are some simple and practical measures the public can take to protect themselves from identity theft.

“For example, everyone should ensure they shred all their discarded personal documents such as bills, receipts, statements and even unwanted post.”

Nicholson adds: “Criminals can use stolen personal details to open bank accounts and obtain credit cards, loans and state benefits.”