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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 August 2006, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Have Your Say: Privacy in peril
A gloved hand about to take documents from a safe

Identity theft is on the rise in the UK already affecting 100,000 people a year.

It not only causes misery for the victims but currently costs the economy 1.7bn annually.

What would you suggest to help reduce identity crime in the UK?

Should UK businesses and government be forced to announce all breaches of identity information?

How do you work to keep your identity secure?

We asked for your comments, a selection of which are below. This debate is now closed.

If the general public was aware of how vulnerable their personal and financial data was in UK there would be a collapse of the financial markets. From every point of transaction, through the banks and within the credit card industry, information is literally seeping from every pore. There will never be sufficient security as the industry would rather stand the cost of fraud and other unexplained losses than pay to make the system safe.

I strongly believe that my identity, and all the other personal data that defines who I am, is my property. For organisations to deal in and make money from this data without my permission or knowledge is criminal in the same way that ripping-off a piece of music and allowing downloads without compensating the artist has been deemed criminal. But, to be in control you have to take responsibility.
Graham Sadd, Maidenhead

Anything to force them to tighten up security and disclose breaches is long overdue
Rob Petherbridge, Alcester
Credit cards are not secure with or without chips in them. But what can we do? So much has to be done online because companies don't communicate by normal means such as post. Anything to force them to tighten up security and disclose breaches is long overdue. Home insurers expect you to take reasonable care to avoid losses. Not encrypting personal data in a firm's database is just asking for trouble. What planet have these firms been on for the last 20 years? Cloud Cuckoo Land!
Rob Petherbridge, Alcester

Why not track the bank accounts of where the illegal money is going? Or mount sting operations? It seems obvious to me.
Paul, North London

We are told to protect our bank details some banks have changed their paying-in system. No envelope to be used, just fill out your paying slip giving signature, name, bank branch, sort code, date paid in and amount, place in a machine and you get back a scanned receipt of your paying in slip and the cheque/s you have paid in! What happens if you drop the receipt, or throw it away without tearing it up?
Sandy Scowen, Milton Keynes

If credit card companies allowed consumers to identify the countries in which their cards were to be used, and whether they want the ability to use cards for internet/phone purchases, a large number of fraudulent transactions could be avoided/detected. Customers could notify their provider of websites/services which they were intending to use, and countries they intend to visit for exceptional purchases. Additionally, loan companies should confirm identity and address in the final stages of a loan agreement to confirm identity. Unless postal fraud were taking place, this would prevent fraudulent loans/finance being obtained.
Lol, London

How can they support privacy if they are sending out this type of information to millions of their customers?
Adrian, Warrington
My bank (one of the big four) sends me an unsolicited "account review" document twice each year. This contains details of my accounts (current and credit card); the amount of money in/out per month; my date of birth; occupation and employer; telephone numbers; and space for me to enter my spouse and children's details. How can they support privacy if they are sending out this type of information to millions of their customers? What could happen to the customers' finances if these letters were intercepted in the post?
Adrian, Warrington

ID cards are supposed to last for up to 10 years according to the UK government. What's the chance of ID cards /or more importantly the technology staying secure for 10 years? How many months was it until Chip and Pin revealed a flaw? Once your biometric data is out, what then? New eyes please Mr Blair! We're all doomed unless we have the ability to control and maintain our own identity's security.
Tim Strutt, Nr Longnor, Buxton

Companies should be made to inform those customers affected by such a breach in security
Tyrone, Southampton
All people should have to right to know when their personal information has been accessed by unwanted people. Companies should be made to inform those customers affected by such a breach in security so customers can act to prevent and are also aware of the possible threats which can result.
Tyrone, Southampton

Cifas offers a protective registration service for people who have suffered from identity theft in the past or have lost personal documents. This is supposed to require extra identity verification before credit is approved, but does anyone know how effective the system is in practice? Also could someone like my 82-year-old father apply for protection just on the basis that he does not plan to make any future credit applications?
Peter, Crawley

I was shocked to find that a large chain store had given credit to someone claiming to be my wife (who had lived at this address for a couple of months). They couldn't have performed any credit checks or they would have realised that the name given was for someone who does not exist. They then proceeded to send letter after letter chasing payment from the person who did not exist and even referred it to a debt collection firm. Makes me wonder how many other such cases there are.
Jason, Newcastle

The root cause of the problem is not being addressed
Paul, Cambridge
The programme identified credit applications as the driver of identity theft - so that is where the effort needs to go. The US credit "opt-out" should be a right for everyone. The nearest UK scheme - Cifas - requires extra ID checks to be carried out. Don't wait to be a victim. It is crazy to suggest the country install how many million paper shredders when the root cause of the problem is not being addressed.
Paul, Cambridge

Businesses routinely seek to collect from customers personal information they do not need. I know of one shop, for example, which asks for a name and address when processing refunds, and a theatre box office which asks for a name and address for every ticket sold, even if payment is by cash. Those like me who insist on anonymity in such transactions are treated as though we are behaving suspiciously. But the more people who insist personal details should only be disclosed on a need-to-know basis, the smaller the horde of information sloshing around waiting to be harvested by criminals.
Dr Gabriel Egan, Stratford-Upon-Avon

My neighbours and I have recently suffered an incident whereby our rubbish bags had been opened and rummaged. Our council insists on paper being bagged separately - in obvious recycling bags labelled "for paper". This makes it easier (and cleaner) to look for documents which could lead to ID theft or fraud.
Ferguson, London

Unsolicited junk mail from finance and credit firms with your details pre-entered should be stopped.
Helen, Swindon

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.

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