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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
It's a steal: ID theft
BBC Radio 4 listener Robert Scott
Robert Scott had his identity stolen two years ago

Identity theft is estimated to cost the UK economy 1.7 bn a year, according to the Home Office.

It is often described as a victimless crime, but government research suggests that more than 100,000 people are affected each year and the consequences can be devastating.

Two years ago, BBC Radio 4 listener Robert Scott had his identity stolen. Huge debts were run up in his name leaving his credit record in ruins.

Robert, an artist, lives on the Isle of Wight. He discovered that someone was using his identity when letters from debt collection agencies and solicitors began arriving on his doorstep.

Everyone wanted repayments for loans that were nothing to do with him and he even had to fend off a phone call from the magistrates court.

Robert with one of his paintings
Robert earns a living as an artist
Robert found himself plunged into a nightmare world where he had to locate loan companies he had never heard of and persuade them that he was not the Robert Scott who owed them thousands of pounds.

Proving his innocence was only the start of his problems. The defaulted loans and county court judgements marked on his credit record meant no loan company was prepared to take him on as a suitable credit risk.

When Robert needed to replace his car in order to get to work, he had no choice but to rely on an existing credit card he had taken out before his identity was stolen. The higher rates of interest he has paid as a result have cost him dear.

Despite being the innocent victim of fraud, Robert has faced an uphill battle to put things right. He joined presenter Lesley Curwen to investigate why.

BBC Radio 4's Inside Money was broadcast on Saturday, 5 August, 2006, at 1204 BST and repeated on Monday, 7 August, 2006, at 1502 BST.

Presenter: Lesley Curwen
Listener: Robert Scott
Producer: Jessica Laugharne

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