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Clarkson gaffe highlights identity fraud

09 January 2008 / by Verity G
Jeremy Clarkson has been left red-faced after losing money to ID fraudsters after printing his personal bank details in his weekly newspaper column.

In an attempt to prove that the loss of CDs containing the personal data of millions of Britons by HM Revenue and Customs last year was blown out of all proportion, the outspoken motoring journalist and TV presenter has had to renege on his comments after he himself became a victim of identity fraud.

In November last year, two CDs went missing which contained the bank details of 25 million recipients of Child Beneift, sparking fears of ID fraud on a mass scale. However, in his weekly column in The Sun, Clarkson rubbished the furore and criticised the Government and media for scare mongering.

At the time Clarkson wrote: "I have never known such a palaver about nothing. The fact is we happily hand over cheques to all sorts of unsavoury people all day long without a moment's thought. We have nothing to fear."

But now the Top Gear host has been left with egg on his face after discovering that someone had used the details to create a £500 direct debit to the charity Diabetes UK, an organisation which does not require a signature to set up a direct debit payment.

"I was wrong and I have been punished" wrote Jeremy Clarkson in his Sunday Times column." Contrary to what I said, we must go after the idiots who lost the discs and stick cocktail sticks in their eyes until they beg for mercy."

Originally, Clarkson published details of his Barclays bank account in the Sun adding his account number and sort code as well as telling readers how to find his address. However, after opening his bank statement he found that the ID fraudster had set up a direct debit. Unfortunately for the TV presenter, the bank cannot reveal the identity of the fraudster thanks to the Data Protection Act.

While Clarkson's gaffe may be entertaining for some, it has brought home the reality of ID fraud and the importance of knowing how to prevent identity fraud. The Home Office currently estimates that ID crime costs the taxpayer a total of £1.7 billion a year and is Britain's fastest growing crime while a report by Experian has revealed that one in four victims actually know the perpetrator personally.

Worryingly, the report also highlights that more than 19 million households regularly put sensitive material in waste and recycling bins while one in three throw away personal information, such as driving licences, phone and utility bills and 13 per cent dispose of credit or debit card numbers, details card's expiry date and even the cardholder's signature.

The latest Clarkson blunder appears not to have dented the star's reputation after it was revealed that more than 28,000 people have signed a petition online calling for the Top Gear presenter to take Gordon Brown's place as Prime Minister.

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