Clegg visits Cambridge and calls for new protection against ID fraud

October 17, 2008 1:18 PM

Nick Clegg and David HowarthPeople should have the right to 'security freeze' their credit records to stop bank accounts and new credit cards being fraudulently opened in their name, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg said yesterday whilst visiting Cambridge.

Nick was visiting the city as the guest of Cambridge MP David Howarth and the city's Liberal Democrats.

He met credit card fraud expert Professor Ross Anderson during a visit to Cambridge University and set out how giving individuals control over who can access their financial history would vastly reduce identity fraud.

The system, which is working successfully across the United States, would be a much more effective way of tackling identity theft than the hugely expensive and unworkable ID cards project.

Commenting, Nick Clegg said: "People currently have no control over who accesses their credit history. Sloppy credit-granting practices have made life easy for identity thieves, who can get credit and open fake bank accounts in other people's names.

"The Government's preferred solution is ID cards. These are an intrusive, costly and ineffective way of attempting to curb identity fraud, with no guarantees that they will work.

"Giving people the right to 'security freeze' their credit records is both effective and inexpensive, and already working in the United States. Big financial companies and the State should answer to individuals, not the other way around."

A security freeze would prevent identity thieves from gaining credit or loans in an individual's name, as legitimate financial institutions should always check a person's credit report before issuing them with credit or a new account.

At the moment, people's credit records are perpetually 'open'. It can be accessed by you or by companies wanting to view your record at any time.

The Liberal Democrats are proposing to give individuals the right to 'freeze' or 'lock' their credit record which would give them back control of their own data.

Nick added: "Ministers have this week announced plans for another huge Orwellian database logging emails, phone calls and websites visited. Rather than hoarding ever more information in Whitehall, they should be giving individuals extra rights to protect their information."

David Howarth said: "The National Identity Database will make so-called identity fraud catastrophic for the individual involved and a goldmine for criminals. With one central database as the gold standard of identity, proving that they are victims of identity theft could be near impossible.

"But a system which allows people to security freeze their credit records is not only effective, it gives control back to the individual. People would be able to choose who could view their credit records and refuse access if they so desire."

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