Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Sharing of data 'could block identity theft'

Filed under
Security

Thousands of cases of identity fraud could be prevented if financial services companies and credit reference agencies shared more data, according to a report from a leading criminologist.

Professor Martin Gill said criminals behind ID fraud, now the fastest growing type of theft in the UK, were exploiting the fact that people's credit files contain different information, depending on which company holds them.

The three main credit reference agencies in the UK do not even share information about people who have become victims of identity theft. As a consequence, anyone targeted by fraudsters has to contact each agency individually to warn creditors, increasing the likelihood of theft.

"Credit reference agencies should be responsible for sharing the fraud alert among themselves, saving ID theft victims the hassle of contacting each agency individually," Professor Gill said.

"Consumers who fear that they have become victims of identity theft could require that a fraud warning be put on all their credit report files, which would alert anyone accessing that file to potential frauds."

Professor Gill's report also called for all consumers to be given access to their credit files free of charge at least once a year, to enable them to identify rogue information that might relate to fraud.

"The consequences for ID theft victims can be very severe and it is clear that in the UK, things are not being made difficult enough for offenders," he said.

Figures from Cifas, an organisation set up by the consumer credit industry to combat fraud, show there were 130,000 cases of identity fraud last year, up from 101,000 in 2003.

Many police forces say they have not been given sufficient powers to fight this type of crime.

Detective Chief Inspector Oliver Shaw, of the City of London Police's Economic Crime Department, said one problem was that identity theft was not yet recognised as a crime category by legislators.

"Professor Gill's report strengthens the need for a strategic review of UK law," he said.

"The term identity theft is a misunderstood classification of the problem that has led to difficulties in assessing both the scale of criminality and our response to it."

By David Prosser
New Zealand Herald

More in Tux Machines

IsoHunt releases roll-your-own Pirate Bay

Open Source Meritocracy Is More Than a Joke

In January 2014, Github removed the rug in its office's waiting room in response to criticism of its slogan, "United Meritocracy of Github." Since then, the criticism of the idea of meritocracy has spread in free software circles. "Meritocracy is a joke," has become a slogan seen on T-shirts and constantly proclaimed, especially by feminists. Such commentary is true — so far as it goes, but it ignores the potential benefits of meritocracy as an ethos. Anyone who bothers to look can see that meritocracy is more of an ideal than a standard practice in free software. The idea that people should be valued for their contributions may seem to be a way to promote fairness, but the practice is frequently more complicated. Read more Also: Unmanagement and unleadership

Linux Kernel Developers Consider Live Kernel Patching Solution

kPatch and kGraph may soon enable live kernel updates on all Linux distributions, making it possible to apply security and other patches on the open source operating system without rebooting. Read more

A real-time editing tool for Wikipedia

Wikipedia is one of the most frequently visited websites in the world. The vast online encyclopedia, editable by anyone, has become the go-to source for general information on any subject. However, the "crowdsourcing" used by Wikipedia opens their doors to spin and whitewashing–edits that may be less than factual in nature. To help journalists, citizens, and activists track these edits, TWG (The Working Group) partnered with Metro News and the Center for Investigative Reporting to build WikiWash. Read more