Identity theft is when someone uses personal information about you to assume your identity, usually to purchase goods or services in your name. This can happen to organisations as well as individuals.
In 2006, Lynne Featherstone MP asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department about the prevalence of identity theft and what the conviction rate was, dealing with the perpetrators. Joan Ryan MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, responded:
- The Government take the problem of identity fraud very seriously. There is no single offence of either identity theft or identity fraud. On 7 June 2006 we brought into force sections 25 and 26 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 which created new criminal offences of being in possession or control of false identity documents. These offences relate to a wide range of identity documents, including passports, driving licences, ID cards and immigration documents. The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment for an offence of possession with intent to use the document for establishing registrable facts about another person, such as name, address, date of birth and other personal details, and two years imprisonment for possession without reasonable excuse. Investigation of offences under these provisions is already underway and statistics on the number of prosecutions and convictions will be published in due course.
- There is also a range of other criminal offences to combat identity fraud. These include, for example, the offences in the Theft Acts of 1968 and 1978 of obtaining property by deception (property includes money), obtaining services by deception and obtaining a money transfer by deception. The number of these offences that were committed using a false or stolen identity is not recorded centrally and it is not possible to provide figures for London boroughs or any other area. However, identity theft and identity fraud questions were incorporated into the British Crime Survey in 2005 and the results should give us more information on the number of victims and the types of fraud that are being committed.
- http://www.identitytheft.org.uk - Home Office website dedicated to combating identity theft
- How gangsters pressure legitmate customers to steal from call centres - the results of an 18 month investigation by BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme
- 2006-12-26 - Yorkshire Post Today - Record toll of identity fraud victims
- Author: Joanne Ginley
- Summary: The numbers of people falling victim to the epidemic of identity theft has reached record levels over the past 12 months.
- 2006-08-14 - BBC News - Small firms face identity theft
- Summary: Small businesses across the UK are being targeted by a new wave of identity theft crimes.