The Fraud Advisory Panel is urging businesses to take...

The Fraud Advisory Panel is urging businesses to take steps to monitor fraud and share data about fraudsters in order to avoid investigation into identity theft. However, companies may get caught in a cleft stick if they are not careful, says Robert Bond, partner with London solicitors Faegre Benson Hobson Audley. The warning comes as the Panel, sponsored by The Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales, reports worryingly high increases in identity theft.

"Failure to take action may result in investigation under the Data Protection Act 1998," says Bond. "Where businesses are regulated (by their industry regulator) or are publicly quoted, they may also find themselves non-compliant with codes relating to corporate governance and risk management. On the other hand, the suggestion that businesses should share personal data about actual or suspected identity thieves may, if not handled carefully, put data sharers in breach of the Data Protection Act as well as the Human Rights Act 2000.

The estimated cost of identity theft on the UK economy is £1.3m each year, according to statistics from the National Criminal Intelligence Squad.