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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 August 2006, 02:17 GMT 03:17 UK
'My identity was stolen for 10 years'
Utility bill
Utility bills can be used by criminals to commit identity fraud
Nearly one in 10 people in the UK believe they have been a victim of identity fraud, a survey suggests.

It took 10 years - until he was buying a house - for 29-year-old David Richardson, from Brighton, to realise he was one of them.

I recently bought my own house which I needed a mortgage for. I had a lot of trouble getting one and I didn't have any idea why because my credit rating was always quite good.

I got a copy of my credit report and realised that 10 years previously somebody had managed to take out a loan in my name and got hold of a credit card and managed to rack up about 6,000 of debt.

Ten years ago I had lost my passport and birth certificate. What somebody had done was take the passport and faked it, and used my birth certificate and two utility bills and opened up these two accounts in my name.

I would advise anybody to look after their personal details. It's amazing what kind of information you can get from a basic utility bill
David Richardson

I was completely unaware. I never needed anything too badly on credit. I had been turned down for a couple of credit cards but I never really thought about it. It took me 10 years to realise what had happened.

I was slightly concerned at the time but as soon as I lost my passport I contacted the Passport Agency, and there was not too much I could do about the birth certificate.

It never really occurred to me back then what could happen. It was just something that I totally forgot about in between.

Totally shocked

It wasn't until I was going for a mortgage that it forced me to do something about it.

We went through a broker. They suggested several lenders to us and we just kept getting turned down.

The broker suggested getting the help of a credit report. You just pay 3. If I had known it was so easy I would have done it sooner.

I had to send the bank my new passport, driving licence and new utility bills and bank statements in order to prove I was who I said I was. That took about two months to sort out.

I still don't think it's fully resolved. Although it's been taken off my credit file, I think there are still black marks against me.

They sent me a new credit file with updated details which I had to send to the mortgage company. I think it took about five months in all to get it sorted out.

I was totally shocked at what had happened. Even now going for certain things on credit I still get problems.

I would advise anybody to look after their personal details. It's amazing what kind of information you can get from a basic utility bill. People should be very careful with their personal items and documents.

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