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Credit agencies and other organisations will receive a weekly encrypted list of deaths from the official registrar to stop fraudsters using the identities of the recently deceased to apply for credit cards and identity documents.

Information on about 12,000 deaths a week will be sent out by the General Register for England and Wales, and its Scottish and Northern Irish equivalents. The death record file will go to credit-checking companies that request it. It aims to stop people using obituaries to apply for credit, sign up for benefits or engage in other ID fraud.

Home Office minister Meg Hillier told the BBC the move would "not only help to combat identity fraud, but will also reduce the impact on relatives of the deceased forced to deal with the consequence of their loved ones' identities being stolen".

The announcement was made to mark the start of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, a government-sponsored campaign to raise awareness, fronted by Adrian Chiles. It aims to cut the estimated £1bn a year cost of ID fraud in the UK.

Researchers found 97 per cent of British consumers are not completely confident that the organisations they deal with take adequate steps to protect their data and prevent ID fraud. This finding was reinforced when 92 per cent of employees said their companies failed to keep staff and customer data safe from fraudsters. ®

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