To help consumers save significant time, money and frustration should their identities be stolen, Citi Cards is launching Citi Identity Theft Solutions in the UK to help customers recover their good name and credit rating.
The free service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to all existing and new Citi Cards customers through the Citiphone help and advice line, even if the identity theft takes place on another issuer's card, bank account or loan.
The personal cost of identity theft to consumers is high - it can take up to 60 hours of work for a typical victim to sort out their life and clear their name (CIFAS). Identity theft is also believed to be one of the fastest growing frauds in the UK, with a 45 per cent annual increase in identity fraud in 2003 (APACS), leading to 101,000 recorded cases in 2003 (CIFAS) at a cost of over £1.3 billion to the British economy annually (Home Office).
Citi Cards new assistance programme will help customers combat the effects of this growing crime and extends the bank's ongoing commitment to provide security and protection as key features of its Citi Platinum, Citi Classic Plus and Citi/AAdvantage® Visa Gold cards.
Customers who think they are victims of identity theft and call CitiPhone will be offered advice on how to take the proper steps to reinstate their good name and credit rating, file police reports and close accounts with other creditors.
They will also receive the Citi Cards Identity Theft Tool Kit. This contains a 16 page advice leaflet, letter templates for writing to banks or card issuers to close down fraudulently opened accounts, guidance on how to dispute entries on credit reports and a template for logging conversations and other recovery actions.
Any fraudulent charges on Citi Cards customer accounts will be cleared and a new Citi card issued to help customers to get through the challenge of reinstating their identity.
Citi Cards continues to be committed to providing security for its cardholders through the bank's Fraud Early Warning system, which is able to detect fraudulent usage of customers' cards, often even before the customer is aware that something is wrong.
Additionally, unlike some other issuers, Citi Cards continues to offer value added services such as free price protection cover, free extended warranty cover, free price match guarantee and free travel accident insurance.
Tom Jones, Head of Citi Cards UK, said: "Citigroup is the world's largest credit card issuer with more than 140 million cards in issue in 45 countries worldwide. Citi leads the credit card industry in fraud detection and prevention in the USA, having introduced Fraud Early Warning in 1989 and Citi Identity Theft Solutions in 2003. We have now brought this international expertise to the UK so our customers here can rely on us to help them navigate faster and easier through this confusing and trying experience if they become a victim of identity thieves."
Mr Jones offered the following advice to consumers to help them stop becoming a victim of identity theft: "It's important to check your credit card and bank statements regularly, be vigilant about how you discard mail and where you are keeping identity information such as bank statements and national insurance numbers. Finally, never write down your account information or PIN numbers on anything you carry, and destroy all receipts when you no longer need them."