The problem of identity theft is continuing apace as eight out of ten UK towns recorded a rise in incidences over the last six months. Pauline McCallion reports
Already a common problem in the UK, more consumers are finding that their personal details have been hi-jacked by thieves who use them to open bank accounts and obtain credit cards, loans, state benefits and other important documents fraudulently.
Recent research from credit reference agency, Mycallcredit, has shown that, not only has the general level of incidences risen by 10% in the UK, but that 97 of the 120 postcode areas surveyed have experienced an increase in ID theft. London is the UK hotspot for the crime, with more than four in every thousand people in the EC area having fallen victim already.
Escalation seems to be a running theme among cities, with Glasgow, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester also singled out as problem areas. Wigan saw the highest increase in ID theft since August 2005 (50%), followed by Huddersfield and Llandrindod Wells – both with 38%.
However, Northern Ireland has been least affected over the past six months. The phenomenon is relatively rare there, according to Mycallcredit. It found someone living in London was twenty times more likely to have their identity stolen than someone living in Belfast.
Alison Nicholson, director of Mycallcredit, says: “ID theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK and our research shows what a difference six months can make. Only 23 post towns in the UK have seen a fall in the number of victims of ID theft and its incidence in the population has grown significantly.”
Mycallcredit has urged consumers to be vigilant and protect themselves from ID theft and fraud through a number of measures. This includes shredding personal documents before disposal, keeping credit records up to date and finding a safe place at home for important documents, such as a lockable drawer. It also advises consumers to arrange with Royal Mail for post to be redirected for at least a year after moving house.