Identity Theft Laws in the United Kingdom

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Identity theft laws make it illegal to adopt and exploit another person's identity. This regulation applies to financial information, legal records or other personal identification. Common identity theft surfaces in the form of Social Security numbers (in the U.S.

), identification cards, passports, personal identification numbers (PINs), telephone numbers, and even virtual information such as e-mails. Identity theft laws in the United Kingdom consist of the Theft Act of 1968, the Data Protection Act of 1998, the Identity Cards Act of 2006, and the Fraud Act of 2006.

Theft Act of 1968

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The Theft Act of 1968 encapsulates theft, robbery, and burglary, and since stealing another's identity is stealing a "property," someone can be convicted of identity theft under this law. Criminals illegally use another's identity, manipulating information for the purpose of stealing goods, property or money; therefore, although not prevalent in the 1960s as it is today, the Theft Act remains relevant to prosecute identity thieves. Other sub-sectioned felonies of the Theft Act are false accounting, obtaining property by deception and handling stolen goods.

Data Protection Act of 1998

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The Data Protection Act of 1998 stipulates that private information such as a person's ethnic identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, financial records, health records and family records cannot be divulged. This law is a privacy act that orders that public entities closely guard identity information. Consequently, agencies that hold mass data on the UK population are forbidden to disclose it to other entities without explicit consent. The Data Protection Act of 1998 limits the period of time that a data reservoir can hold information. UK citizens have the right to obtain collected information about themselves. Organizations that glean personal information also must ensure that data protection systems are up-to-date and fully functioning.

Identity Cards Act of 2006

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The Identity Cards Act of 2006 enabled the institution of the National Identity Register which issues identification cards and passports. This Identity Cards Act of 2006 enables background checks to verify the truthfulness of collected data and confirms citizens' identity. The law seeks to protect against personal identity theft and fraud, however, the law classifies certain data, judging which material could be retained or removed. The act legitimises the collection of personal information without consent for crime and justice purposes, and lays out identity theft crimes and identity fraud relating to ID cards.

Fraud Act of 2006

The Fraud Act of 2006 targets "phishing," the act of illegally acquiring virtual personal information--for example user names, pass codes, and electronic information--falsifying data and "pharming." Pharming is another illegal activity under the Fraud Act, where the hacker assumes the identity of another website and diverts Internet traffic from the original to a bogus site. The Fraud Act of 2006 outlaws misrepresenting your identity, assuming the identity of someone else and sending e-mails that facilitate hackers to use and abuse personal and business information.