Cover of MoneyWeek magazine issue no 655

Britain's new bubble

30 August 2013 / Issue 655


  • It's time to buy Microsoft
  • The buy-to-let backlash is brewing
  • The boredom of life in a billion-dollar boy band



John Stepek

A breeding ground for cons

Here’s the least-astonishing news of the week – insurance against identity theft is a complete waste of money. The only surprise is that it’s taken this long for regulators to get around to dealing with it.

In November 2007, I wrote a column saying you should save your pennies, as your bank would cover you for any losses. I was rewarded with a rather aggressive email from a claims company, arguing that the piece was irresponsible. (This is how, as a journalist, you know when you’re right about something – the more defensive the reaction, the less defensible the product.)

I responded by asking them to send me the data on how many ID theft claims were made and actually led to a payout. They must have lost the email, because they never replied. In any case, if you’ve been mis-sold this insurance, we look at how to get your money back here.

The news won’t do the battered reputations of the banks any good. But there’s another lesson from all this, and it’s one that bank bosses and staff should pay close attention to. You may not remember, but around about the time ID theft protection was being mis-sold over bank counters across the UK, the then-Labour government was also aggressively mis-selling a national ID card scheme to British voters.

• Read the full editor’s letter here: A breeding ground for cons