Information as discarded above can, as the Home Office
point out, be used to open bank accounts, obtain credit and
debit cards, store cards or benefits or services in the
Such information may be used to establish mobile
telephone or utility accounts or take out loans.
An identity thief could open a bank account and write bad
cheques in the victim’s name.
Credit reference agency Experian’s research shows that
the people most likely to be the victims of identity theft
include young professionals and middle-aged families living in
central London with office and service jobs.
These groups are twice as likely to be victims of
Those who earn over £60,000 are almost three times more
likely to be victims of identity fraud and the better-off in the
suburbs are four times more likely to be victims of identity
An identity thief could give your name to the police
during an arrest. If
they are released and fail to show up at a later court hearing,
a warrant for the victim’s arrest could be issued.
Identity thieves even steal the identities of deceased
If you use a mailbox rather than a letterbox you are more
likely to have your mail stolen
London is the UK’s identity theft hot spot.
A quarter of all identity theft
cases have taken place in the capital this year.
Experian reveals that Londoners are twice as likely to
become victims of identity theft as the average UK region.
Enfield residents are more than twice as likely to become
victims of identity theft as the average London borough.
Enfield is followed by Bexley and Harrow in second and
third places respectively.
Identity thieves will intercept victim’s mail,
telephone victims pretending to be from their bank, send out
“phishing” emails asking the intended victim to click on a
link and generally “reconfirm” personal details.
Amongst many other tales of stolen identity, there is the
story of the woman from Ipswich who received more than 50 unpaid
parking fines notices totalling thousands of pounds, from
several London boroughs. Despite
the fact that she had never held a driving licence, a fraudster
had been able to register his vehicle in her name and run up
Your mother’s maiden name can be particularly useful to
an identity thief.
Anyone can apply for a copy of your birth certificate or
driving licence. With
a birth certificate, a fraudster will know your mother’s
maiden name, and can acquire a passport in your name.
Include public records like the Land Registry, Companies
House and the Electoral Roll and there’s not a lot about you
that can’t be discovered.
Identity thieves can get your mail redirected, or apply
for credit cards using your name and your real address as the
former address on the application.
Mobile phone accounts, loans, overdrafts – all can be
taken out in your name.
Capital one (the credit card company) carried out
research that showed that 43 per cent of people did not remember
to redirect their mail when they moved house.
Only five per cent of those that did redirected it for
more than a year.
A research company, Populus, found that 40 per cent of
those polled feared being a victim of identity fraud more than
pickpocketing, mugging or burglary – and rightly so if the
statistics are anything to go by.
There is a case of identity fraud every four minutes,
according to Professor Martin Gill, a criminologist at the
University of Leicester. Professor
Gill interviewed five criminals as part of a study into identity
theft commissioned by Capital One, the loan company.
One thief preyed on flats with shared mailboxes, which
make it easier for mail to be stolen.
Another used mail addressed to the former resident of her
flat to open a credit account.
• Two identity
thieves admitted to bribing delivery men into parting with
handbags were also a useful source for thieves.
Capital One’s data suggested more than 3 million people
regularly carried their bank statements with them, 4.9 million
carried their payslips, and 3.4 million took their passports
around with them. Around
7 million people admit to leaving bags and briefcases unattended
in public places. Professor
Gill said criminals who got an illegitimate credit or debit card
found it easy to use them.
Signature checks were reportedly lax.
Some male perpetrators even managed to use cards bearing
• A thief can
spend freely with a stolen credit card until it is reported
stolen or lost. Even
then, they can be used as identification to acquire store cards
in your name. This
is because at present shops issuing store-cards are denied
access to the banks’ hot card file of stolen card numbers.
to the BBC’s news website, Fraudsters bribe burglars and
postmen for bank statements, which contain enough data to open
new accounts and take out fraudulent loans in your name.
• “The Money
Programme” was told by a convicted fraudster, Glenn Davies,
now in jail, about his role in a nationwide ring of identity
thieves, which utilises private financial information, supplied
by corrupt bank staff.