Identity theft

Identity theft is a fraud that occurs when a person attempts to pass him or herself off as another individual in order to buy goods or other financial services.

If a fraudster has stolen your identity, a specialist privacy lawyer can discuss your case and assess its likelihood for a successful result.

What legislation governs identity theft?

As identity theft involves information being stolen about a person, the Data Protection Act 1998 is the main piece of legislation that is used when these types of cases are investigated.

In addition, the Theft Act 1968, 1978 and the Theft (Amendment) Act 1996 also detail what are defined as ‘deception offences’ that now include identity theft. And in 2008 the National Fraud Authority (NFA) was launched to combat all types of fraud including identity theft in the UK.

There is also an Identity Crime Task Force that has the specific responsibility to police the growing instances of identity theft that are occurring in the country. If you have been the victim of identity theft, you are advised to speak to a criminal law solicitor for legal advice as soon as possible.

How can businesses use your private information?

For the consumer it is important to understand how businesses are using the information they gather about their customers and how this information is stored. The Data Protection Act comes into play here and gives you the right to see any information that a company is holding about you.

This ‘right to subject access’ in practice means you can submit a request in writing to see the information that is held about you. You may have to pay for this service, but many organisations don’t charge.

If you are refused access to the information held about you, contact a specialist solicitor for legal advice regarding your rights under the legislation.

The Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 can have an impact on identity theft as the Act allows anyone to request any information from a public body. However, the Act does not give the public the right to ask for sensitive information about other individuals.

If your request does contravene privacy laws, the information would not be released to you as this would conflict with the provisions of the Data Protection Act.

The Office of the Information Commissioner has more information about how the Data Protection Act applies to instances of data theft.

If you are affected by identity theft, you must contact a solicitor as soon as possible to put an immediate stop to the undertakings, before you suffer any financial loss. Click here for more information on privacy law.

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