ID theft? What ID theft?

An ordinary bank customer has persuaded one of the UK’s largest credit rating agencies to adopt a totally free technique that could dramatically cut ID theft.

From this week, UK agency Equifax has agreed to make it easier for consumers to amend their credit records with a simple thumbprint ID, with the requirement that anyone applying for credit under that customer’s name must supply a corresponding print on any application.

According to Jamie Jamieson, who thought up and has campaigned for the idea the idea for some years, criminals will hate this – the last thing a criminal wants to do is hand over incriminating evidence in the form of a personal thumb or fingerprint.

In the event of fraud using a person’s identity, the bogus fingerprint could be added to the Police National Computer (PNC) database of fingerprint records, and either identify the culprit from those already in the system, or create a trail of evidence should they be arrested at a future date. Most likely, the criminal would simply move on to another identity and not bother at all.

Up to now, the problem has been the reluctance of an industry that profits from expensive ID theft protection plans costing from £50 a year and up, to admit that people can scotch ID theft with such a simple technique. Customers have always had the right to both see and amend their credit records for a small fee, but it just hasn’t been in the interests of the industry to mention this. Or perhaps they couldn’t be bothered.

Now Equifax – one of the major agencies in the UK on which the whole credit agency is built - is to make the process much easier to navigate for the ordinary customer.

“This is an excellent idea. It offers people effective protection against fraud,” Neil Monroe of Equifax was quoted as saying.

We’ve covered Jamie Jamieson's idea before in more detail.

Some caveats for anyone thinking of following this route. First it rules out instant credit decisions, so consumers have to be willing to put up with waiting for paper to move back and forth. Second, it is necessary to amend the credit record at all three of the UK’s credit rating agencies, not just Equifax.

Equifax can be contacted through its website. The other two agencies areExperian, and Call Credit.

This story, "ID theft? What ID theft?" was originally published by


Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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