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Identity Fraud

Volume 474: debated on Monday 21 April 2008

We previously estimated the cost of identity fraud at about £1.7 billion a year, but we are currently engaged in calculating a new estimate which we intend to announce shortly.

Following a straw poll in my office, we discovered that two members of my staff had been victims of identity fraud involving money being taken out of their bank accounts. In any review of the cost of identity fraud, will the Minister ensure that account is taken of the cost to the individual of correcting the errors and getting their money back, as well as the cost of the money taken from the bank account in the first place?

A great deal of work has been done to assess the cost in time, effort and the impact on individuals. It is estimated that it takes an average of 48 hours to sort out the problems of identity fraud. Figures from CIFAS, the UK fraud prevention service, show that about 65,000 individuals were victims of fraud. We take these figures very seriously, and we all need to work together to tackle identity fraud across the piece.

The illegal online trade in stolen identities which fuels ID fraud, and the costs associated with it, operates across borders, yet the Government have not bothered to ratify the international treaty to combat cybercrime that they signed as far back as 2001. Why not?

We continue to look into the issues of international identity fraud and will continue to do so in order to ensure that we protect the British public to the best of our ability. It is worth stressing, however, that preventing identity fraud is not a matter only for the Government, so I would urge any individual not to release personal information, to use only secure websites—[Interruption]—to get credit references and, of course, to notify key players of changes of address—[Interruption.] It is a serious point, Mr. Speaker, and I am sorry that the Opposition seem to think—[Interruption.]

I am sorry that the Opposition seem to think that this is a laughing matter, but the reality is that tackling identity fraud is a matter not only for a number of agencies, including the Government, but also for individuals. It is my responsibility as Minister always to remind individuals to do their bit to prevent identity fraud.