Crime Prevention

Home Department written question – answered on 7th October 2008.

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Photo of Shailesh Vara Shailesh Vara Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government are taking to prevent crimes involving (a) internet fraud and (b) identity theft; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Crime & Security)

The Government maintain internet fraud prevention advice on a number of websites and also supports the GetSafeOnline website which is a joint Government and industry initiative which provides clear, accessible and up-to-date advice on the easy ways in which the public and small businesses can protect themselves and their PCs while using the internet.

The Government have recently allocated £29 million in new money to implement the findings of the cross Whitehall review of fraud. A new National Fraud Reporting Centre which will enable the police to draw together comprehensive fraud intelligence will also work with law enforcement to tackle fraud facilitated through the internet.

The Government are involved in a range of activity to help reduce identity theft and works with organisations in the public and private sector. We have sought to ensure better co-ordination in prosecuting fraudsters through establishing a network of Single Points of Contact in all police forces and a range of Government Departments and agencies dealing with identity fraud investigations and prosecutions.

We have also strengthened legislation. Offences in the Identity Cards Act 2006 target those who possess and use false identity documents and genuine documents belonging to someone else. More powers to share data to combat fraud were enacted in the Serious Crime Act 2007 and the Disclosure of Death Registration Information Scheme, under the Police and Justice Act 2006, was launched on 16 January 2008.

We have introduced systems to confirm the validity of UK passports presented to other organisations and interviews for first time passport applicants over 16 years old now take place to verify the identity of individuals.

A leaflet and the website help to increase public awareness of the problem. The material advises on how to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity fraud, warning signs to look out for, and what someone should do if they do fall victim. Anyone who has had their personal details used fraudulently can contact one of the three credit reference agencies for help in resolving any credit related problems. They offer a free credit repair service and will liaise with each other, and the banks, to repair compromised personal credit records.

Finally, our plans for a National Identity Scheme will provide people with a highly secure means of protecting their identity and help citizens to prove their identities easily, quickly and with vastly improved security.

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