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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 13:15 GMT
'I was a victim of ID theft'
A silhouette next to some bills

A quarter of UK adults say they have had their identity stolen or know a victim of ID fraud, Which? magazine has said.

Three BBC News website readers explain what happened to them when their ID was stolen.

Vikki Anderson, 29, bank worker from Uxbridge

When Vikki Anderson had her handbag stolen last July, she knew she was in trouble.

She was moving home and her passport and key personal documents were in the stolen bag.

"I cancelled everything that day, including my passport and reported the theft to the police. But I was still worried about the possibility of ID theft."

Vikki's nervousness was justified when she received a call from a car loan broker asking her when she would like her new loan repayments to start.

Vikki had not bought a car.

I still fear that the fraudsters will strike again, even though I have done everything I can to stop it from happening
Vikki Anderson

"I told them that whoever had applied for the loan was not me and decided to check my credit record immediately."

Vikki found that a fraudster had used the stolen ID to obtain car loans worth more than 20,000 in her name.

Vikki also found that two direct debits had been set up on her bank account without her knowledge.

After a month, the loan company concluded that a fraud had taken place and told Vikki that she would not be liable for the loan.

"The fraudsters have caused a serious amount of damage.

"I was recently turned down for a credit card because my credit rating has been damaged."

Vikki is trying to get the two major credit reference agencies, Experian and Equifax, to amend her credit record.

"The whole process is not something I would want to repeat, I have spent hundreds of hours trying to sort everything.

"I still fear that the fraudsters will strike again, even though I have done everything I can to stop it from happening."

However, according to Vikki, one good thing has come of the experience:

"The day that the fraud emerged my boyfriend bought me a shredder which we now use."

Laura McDonald, 40, an accounts administrator from Edinburgh

Laura McDonald suffered four months of stress and heartache after a fraudster stole her ID.

"The first I knew of what was going on was when a letter from a debt collector landed on my doormat."

The debt collector was chasing up a recent 235 debt from a mail order company.

I was recently refused credit at a High Street retailer, I am sure the fraudulent mail order and book club debts are to blame
Laura McDonald

But the debt related to an address that Laura had left more than four years ago.

Laura had fallen victim to a not too sophisticated but still highly-effective fraud.

"The housing association had left my nameplate up outside my old address. The fraudster had simply seen my name and decided to obtain goods using it."

Laura soon discovered that the mail order debt wasn't the only cloud on the horizon.

"My name was used to obtain books from a book club and I am currently dealing with that debt."

In order to prove that she wasn't the person responsible, Laura has had to make dozens of phone calls and send a copy of her birth certificate and utility bills to debt collectors and credit reference agencies.

Unfortunately, Laura has found that her credit rating has been hit by the fraud.

" I was recently refused credit at a High Street retailer, I am sure the fraudulent mail order and book club debts are to blame.

"I am currently trying to get the credit reference agency to correct my file."

Laura reported the fraud to the police and was surprised at their response.

"They told me that they would not investigate because I am not the victim of the crime, it is up to the mail order firm and book club to complain.

"What the law does not realise is that I am a victim. I have spent at least a week sorting this mess out and the whole experience has been very stressful indeed."

Nasir Ahmed, 43, IT engineer from London

Nasir Ahmed fell for an increasingly common type of ID fraud.

It started in September 2004 when he received a call at home apparently from his bank.

The caller told Nasir that someone was trying to carry out a fraudulent transaction on his account and that to stop it they needed to confirm his personal details.

Where does a person go for help, the police said it was a matter between me and the credit card company
Nasir Ahmed

Eager to fight the fraudsters, Nasir confirmed to the caller his name, address, date of birth, place of birth - everything, in short, needed to perpetrate a sophisticated ID fraud.

Nasir heard nothing for a month, then on opening his credit card statement he found that more than 11,000 had been taken, mostly to buy flight tickets and travellers cheques.

"It was a real shock and I called my credit card company straight away who agreed to freeze my account and investigate.

"It took them three months to sort this out and credit the account. All that time I worried that they would say that they thought it was me who had spent the money, how would I find 11,000?

"Where does a person go for help? The police said it was a matter between me and the credit card company."

Nasir was struck by the professional nature of the fraud.

"The initial call was very plausible and they even changed my account details, including the password with the intention of carrying on with the fraud.

"I urge people not to disclose any personal details over the phone."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How fraudsters steal identities



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