FAMILY FINANCE: Your Identity Is the Target

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), December 6, 2004 | Go to article overview

FAMILY FINANCE: Your Identity Is the Target


Byline: Edited by Jane Hall

Identity fraud in all its guises is on the increase. Jane Hall speaks to the author of a new book on the subjectSHOP owners the length and breadth of the land will be rubbing their hands in glee.

The British love to spend at the best of times, but never more so than in the run-up to Christmas when the seasonal shopping frenzy takes hold.

Research from Abbey reveals the average spend this Christmas is set to be more than pounds 400 per person, with those in the 35 to 44 age group splashing out more than pounds 600 each.

But many could find themselves spending more than they intend.

This may be the season of giving, but for a growing sector of the population it is also the time when they can take, take, take.

For the festive season is a bonanza time for identity theft, whether that be the simple skimming of your credit card number right through to your entire personal details being stolen.

The effects can be devastating. With this information your money can be taken and your credit rating affected - you could even be arrested for crimes someone else has committed.

Chances are we all know someone who has been a victim of identity theft.

Frank Abagnale, author of Catch Me If You Can, and once arguably the world's greatest fraudster, has called it ``the crime of this century''.

Featured in the best-selling books turned films, The Talented Mr Ripley and The Day Of The Jackal, identity theft is one of Britain's fastest growing crimes, costing pounds 1. 2bn a year.

Nationwide, card crime alone has cost banks and card holders pounds 61. 1m in the past 12 months.

It is a frightening prospect that in the words of Rob Hamadi, head of communications for the Publishers Association where he works on high technology crime issues and law enforcement liaison, ``we are all at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft''.

Rob wants people to protect themselves against the myriad of modern financial scams.

Which is why he has written an invaluable guide, called Identity Theft.

As he says: ``We have to learn to protect ourselves before it is too late. …

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