To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent estimate she has made of the number of incidents of identity theft relating to telecommunications and utility bills recorded by Action Fraud; and what assessment she has made of the adequacy of legislative powers to take steps in response to such cases.
25 February 2022
The Government is aware of the harms caused by identity theft and that criminals use false identities to commit and enable a range of offences.
The Office for National Statistics publish official statistics on the number of frauds reported to Action Fraud on a quarterly basis and the latest statistics can be found here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/yearendingjune2021.
However, the detailed information requested about how the fraud was committed is not held centrally. Whilst the theft of another person’s identity is often a pre-cursor to fraud, a recordable crime is committed a person’s identity is used by another individual to commit a criminal offence. Identity theft is not a separate offence in law and so it is not recorded as a distinct category.
There are currently no plans to introduce a new criminal offence of identity theft as existing legislation is in place to protect people’s personal data and prosecute those that commit crimes enabled by identity theft. These include the Fraud Act 2006, the Computer Misuse Act 1990, the Identity Documents Act 2010 and the Data Protection Act 2018.
We believe that the most effective way of preventing identity theft is to improve the safety and security of the identity systems we use, particularly online. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport recently published draft “rules of the road” for governing the future use of digital identities. The new trust framework, including details of how to contribute to this work can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-uk-digital-identity-and-attributes-trust-framework. We continue to encourage the public to report fraud to Action fraud.