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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 August 2005, 23:09 GMT 00:09 UK
Call for 'tougher' ID fraud fight
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ID fraud cost an estimated 1.3bn last year
Consumers should be given a free copy of their credit rating every year to help combat the growing problem of identity fraud, a report claims.

Better data sharing between government agencies and the public sector will also help defeat fraudsters, according to criminologist Professor Martin Gill.

Criminals use stolen personal details from other people to apply for credit and benefits in their name.

This type of fraud is now one of the UK's fastest growing crimes.

A quarter of UK adults say they have had their identity stolen or know a victim of ID fraud. Criminals raked in an estimated 1.3bn last year through forging identities.

Too easy

In his report Identity Theft and Fraud: Learning from the USA, Professor Gill points out that the US is far more rigorous in its approach to tackling the problem.

It is clear that in the UK things are not being made difficult enough for offenders
Professor Gill, criminologist

If people are sent a free copy of their credit reference once a year they will be able to spot whether someone has been applying for credit in their name.

Professor Gill, who is a director of Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International, also advised credit reference agencies to share fraud alerts among themselves.

This means victims would no longer have to keep contacting each credit reference agency separately.

In the report, commissioned by credit card group Capital One, the professor also called for police to be given better resources to combat the problem.

"The consequences for ID theft victims can be very severe and it is clear that in the UK things are not being made difficult enough for offenders," said Professor Gill.

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