The Times reports that the Government was accused yesterday of playing on people’s fears by producing hugely inflated figures on the cost of identity fraud.
In a report published yesterday, the Home Office said that the annual cost of ID fraud had reached £1.7 billion. However, this figure was undermined by Apacs, the group that represents payment organisations such as banks and credit firms, which said that the cost had been grossly overestimated and that its own figures had been misrepresented. Ministers included in their total the figure of £395 million as the annual cost of money laundering alone. But the Home Office admits that this figure is only “for illustrative purposes” and that “no figures are currently available on the proportion of money laundering that relies on identity fraud”.
Furthermore, the Government claims that Apacs puts the cost of ID fraud linked to plastic cards at £504 million a year. But a spokeswoman for Apacs said that the real figure was less than £37 million. “The £504 million is the total losses for plastic cards. It is not just identity fraud on cards,” she said. “Within that overall figure there will be some cards stolen in the post, some skimmed or cloned, some lost or stolen.”
Asked why the Home Office used the larger sum, she said: “I just think they think it is a good story to scare people with.”