Identity thefts are 'set to double'

The number of Britons whose credit rating is damaged due to identity theft looks set to nearly double during the coming five years, a report has warned.

Around half a million people have already been blacklisted as a result of fraudsters taking over their identity and using it to get credit or benefits.

And a further 440,000 people are expected to fall victim to the crime during the coming five years, according to insurer LV.

The group said cases of identity theft have increased by around a third each year during the past eight years, and the number of victims of the crime is expected to continue to rise due to the economic downturn.

Just under half of people questioned for the group said they had experienced some kind of credit-related problem, such as being turned down for credit or a utilities contract, or incorrectly receiving unpaid bills, a court summons or being contacted by bailiffs.

Among those experiencing problems, 27% said the situation was not their fault, while 29% said they had no idea why they had had problems.

The research, which was conducted for the group by the centre for economics and business research, also found that the crime costs the average victim 2,100 to put right.

Among those who had been a target for identity fraudsters 40% said they had been refused banking services, such as a credit card, 6% had been turned down for a mortgage and 8% had had to pay legal fees to get the problem rectified.

John O'Roarke, managing director of LV home insurance, said: "In the last 10 years we've seen a massive increase in the number of people targeted by fraudsters, illustrating the importance of vigilance in protecting personal information and monitoring for any problems that might prove to be a symptom of identity theft.

"Our research shows that an unfair credit rating is a common problem for many and more worryingly, identity fraud is likely to rise sharply in the coming years."