Credit reference agency Callcredit has teamed up with the Home Office in a major initiative to combat the growing problem of identity theft.
The agency is to distribute Home Office leaflets to consumers throughout the UK, advising them on how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and what action to take if they do become a victim.
Identity theft affects more than 100,000 people every year in the UK. It occurs when personal information is obtained by someone else without the owner’s knowledge and typically leads to fraud, deception, or obtaining benefits and services in the victim’s name. Government estimates put the cost to the UK economy at more than 1.3bn a year.
Individuals who think they may have been a victim or are worried about identity theft can download a leaflet from the consumer advice section at www.callcredit.plc.uk or they can request a copy by contacting the consumer services team on 0113 2441555 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of the initiative, Callcredit is also offering a free months 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. I welcome Callcredits decision to work with the Home Office to combat identity fraud by co-branding and distributing Home Office identity theft leaflets.
The leaflet will provide advice to victims of identity fraud, who contact Callcredit, on how to put their records straight and guidance to others on how to protect their identity.
This is another good example of the public and private sectors working together to reduce crime.
Alison Nicholson, director of MyCallcredit, says: Criminals can use stolen personal details to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, loans, state benefits and other documents in your name.
However, there are some very simple and practical ways in which the public can protect themselves from identity theft, for example everyone should shred personal documents such as bills, receipts, statements and even unwanted post.
Also, regularly checking their credit file will ensure they are quickly alerted to any fraudulent attempts to obtain credit in their name. An e-alert service will minimise the consequences of becoming a victim of ID theft.
Callcredit is delighted to be helping the Home Office communicate these messages.
The leaflet, titled Identity Theft Dont become a victim, 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, or if you don’t receive post that you expect to, for example from a bank.
Indicators that you might have had your identity stolen include:
items appearing on your bank or credit-card statements or your credit file that you do not recognise
applying for a state benefit and being told that you are already claiming
receiving bills, invoices or receipts addressed to you for goods or services you haven’t asked for
being refused a financial service, such as a credit card or loan, despite having a good credit history
having a mobile-phone contract set up in your name without your knowledge
receiving letters from solicitors or debt collectors for debts that aren’t yours.