Name game

AFTER having his own identity stolen on Facebook, it was perhaps understandable that the head of Interpol, Ronald K Noble, claimed last month that cyber-crime was "the most dangerous criminal threat we will ever face".

But whether or not that fear proves alarmist, evidence continues to mount of the increasing threat posed by identity theft which now affects nearly two million people a year in Britain alone, at a cost of

2.7bn, according to the National Fraud Authority.

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Nor does there seem much likelihood of the growth being quickly reversed given that this type of crime seems to run so easily with the grain of modern-day living.

The growth of internet use, in particular the rise of social-networking sites such as Facebook, combined with greater financial worries luring more and more people to commit fraud in an attempt to maintain the lifestyles they enjoyed during the boom years, means that it is not merely hi-tech criminal gangs reaping the advantages.

The pressure is now on law-enforcement agencies to catch up with these trends and move rapidly to stay one step ahead of the criminals even though they are under financial pressure themselves as a result of public-sector cuts.

Instead of waiting for the police to intercept identity fraudsters, however, the public should be taking responsibility for their own protection. Far better, after all, to look after your good name by taking simple precautions, such as checking credit references and taking care with all documents that show names and addresses, than to

recover it after it has gone missing.