Mariam Abacha in Lagos
The government has announced a new online "one-stop shop" to help prevent ID fraud.
Home Office minister Des Browne today heralded the birth of www.identity-theft.org.uk, noting: "Having your identity stolen is very traumatic - it can take some victims up to 300 hours to put their records and their lives straight. ID fraud costs the country more than £1.3 billion per year. Multiple or false identities are used in more than a third of terrorist related activity and in organised crime and money laundering."
To ensure that their water rates bills do not end up in the hands of al-Qaeda or the Russian mafia, the website advises punters to:
- Be extra careful if you live in a property where other people could have access to your mail.
- When giving your card details or personal information over the phone, Internet or in a shop, make sure other people cannot hear or see your personal information.
- Never carry documents or plastic cards unnecessarily. When not in use keep them in a safe place.
- Keep your personal documents in a safe place, preferably in a lockable drawer or cabinet at home. Consider storing valuable financial documents such as share certificates with your bank.
- Don't throw away entire bills, receipts, card slips, bank statements or even junk mail in your name. Destroy unwanted documents, if possible by using a shredder.
All very sensible, although we might add: "Avoid travelling on any airline within the EU in case your personal details end up in the hands of the FBI".
Of course, there's one sure-fire way to protect you identity, and Browne wastes no time in giving Home Secretary David Blunkett a plug for his own particular vision of a safer, more secure world: "The Government's plans to introduce a National Identity Cards scheme will help individuals to prove their identity and protect it from being misused or stolen by fraudsters."
Spot on. To summarise: destroy all your mail, preferably by fire; lock bank statements in a titanium steel and concrete vault; do not leave the house; and sign here immediately for a new voluntary/compulsory ID card. ®
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