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Tom Brake welcomes National Identity Fraud Protection Week

October 17, 2006 11:29 AM

Member of Parliament for Carshalton and Wallington urges constituents to get 'identity fraud wise'

Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, has urged local constituents today not to make their identity easily accessible to fraudsters.

The calls come as Tom Brake signed a Parliamentary Early Day Motion today in support of National Identity Fraud Prevention week. The week aims to raise awareness of the dangers of identity fraud and inform the public and businesses on the steps they could and should be taking to protect themselves.

This awareness drive has been put in place by an expert group of public and private sector partners, including the Metropolitan Police (and other regional police forces), Crimestoppers, The Information and Passport Service, CIFAS - the UK's fraud prevention service, Fellowes, the Federation of Small Businesses, Callcredit, Equifax, and Experian.

According to the CIFAS, 1 in 4 people have been affected by identity fraud and at the beginning of the year the Home Office estimated the cost of identity fraud to the economy at £1.7 billion. New research commissioned for the week has revealed that nearly every household surveyed in a controlled bin raiding exercise had thrown out sensitive materials with their household rubbish, and 48% had thrown away everything a fraudster needs to steal a person's identity.

Commenting on the week, Tom Brake said, 'I urge everybody in Carshalton and Wallington to get smart about this issue before it's too late. There are so many things that we just can't control, but this is something that can be prevented just by following the advice below. That almost half of all households leave themselves at risk is unacceptable, and everyone, myself included, needs to crack down on this. At my constituency office, we are very careful to use a shredder to destroy documents of a confidential nature.

Identity fraud is a growing problem, and victims have a miserable time trying to set everything straight again. Please, for your own sakes, take note of police advice, and don't hand your identity over on a silver platter.'

Steps that the public can take to protect themselves include:

• Keep your personal and confidential documents secure - if you must dispose of something, shred or burn it. Things necessary to destroy include but are not limited to: bank and credit card statements, utility bills, receipts, direct mail, and mortgage applications

• Regularly check your bank and credit card accounts for unusual transactions

• Similarly, regularly check a copy of your credit report from credit references such as Callcredit, Equifax, or Experian

• When you move home, be sure to redirect your mail to your new address by contacting Royal Mail Redirection Service at 0845 7740 740, visiting your local post office, or going to www.royalmail.com

• Never give out any personal information to unidentified individuals or organizations who contact you by phone, email, or face to face.

• If you think you may have been a victim of identity fraud, immediately contact your nearest police station or visit www.met.police.uk/fraudalert/. Also consider subscribing to the CIFAS Protective Registration service by calling 0870 010 2091; they will place a notice in your credit file indicating that documents have been stolen and you may therefore be a victim.

• Finally, if you have any information about identity fraud, please call Crimestoppers at 0800 555 111 and leave information anonymously.

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