New U.K. cards will not help in battle against fraud

Legislation before the U.K. Parliament to introduce compulsory ID cards will not solve the fast rising problem of identity theft, fraud prevention experts warned today.

According to GB Group, personal information, proofs of ID such as a passport or utility bill and even sophisticated tracking software that pinpoints the location of mobile phones and internet users, must all be used in combination with biometric-enabled ID cards.

While the gvernment has used the latest figure that identity theft is costing the U.K. £1.7 billion a year to bolster its argument for the introduction of ID cards, GB believes that cards will only form part of the overall arsenal to tackle fraud.

Rob Laurence, managing director of GB's DataAuthentication division, said: "ID cards are not going to be the solution to identity theft. They will form a valuable piece of the toolkit, but identity fraud is becoming far more sophisticated, and consequently the technologies for fighting it are evolving even faster."

"For a long time, businesses have insisted on checking identity against two factors - personal data such as name, address and date of birth and the production of documents such as a driving license, credit card or utility bill," he said.

He added that, now the latest generation of verification techniques is beginning to introduce third-level technology based on technologies such as biometrics: "Additional levels of protection can also be built in to verify that a customer opening a new account is actually located exactly where they say they are. This can be done via global positioning satellites which pinpoint the location of a mobile phone or trace the IP addresses of individual computers."

Against this backdrop of new technology, GB believes that a national identity card will only form part of the solution and certainly will not solve the ID theft problem on its own - as much of the government publicity suggests.

Laurence added: "The introduction of a national identity card is part of the evolutionary process as we try to tackle increasingly sophisticated criminals. Suggesting that it will solve the problem is naive - it will simply add another layer of identification data against which we can screen an individual's profile."

"Verification techniques will continue to evolve and technology which allows us to overlay multiple sources of independent data will mean that fraudsters will find it harder and harder to use a false identity."

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