A VICTIM of identity fraud from Harpenden has decribed how credit card criminals got him blacklisted for more than two years.

Stephen Lyden-Brown, 59, a retired lawyer, saw his credit rating plummet after fraudsters applied for numerous credit cards under his name and racked up thousands of pounds of debt.

After fighting for almost two years to clear his name, he is now appearing on television promoting the National Consumer Council's ID theft support centre to help other victims.

The trouble began for the Station Road resident when he moved house six years ago and a credit card company continued to target his old address with invitations to join its scheme.

Only when he applied to extend his existing credit card limit with another company two years later did he realise what was going on.

He said: "I was astonished to hear from them to say I could not extend my credit card limit. The credit card company suggested I had a credit check on my status.

"I got the report back that a credit card company with whom I had never had any dealings had put a black mark on my record."

A year before, the company had received an application for a credit card in Stephen's name after sending him promotional material.

It is thought the unsolicited mail was intercepted by staff at a Royal Mail sorting office who used it to get credit cards under the stolen identity, racking up a debt of £4,500 in the first month alone.

After eventually getting a police crime number, Stephen persuaded the company to accept his innocence, only to find out two-and-a-half years ago that it still had a black mark against him.

He said: "It is very irresponsible of a company to arbitrarily put black marks on a person without even telling them. That is an abuse of human rights, I would have thought.

"It was very stressful. I must have sent out hundreds of faxes and emails. The whole business is a horrible nightmare to find yourself in.

"You have to deal with several companies and it is made blatantly clear to you that they think you are guilty."

Following research into the growth of identity theft, the NCC is publishing a blueprint for action on victim support.

Its new support centre will help victims prove their identity, obtain and understand their credit report, take necessary steps to prevent further fraud and contact service providers on the victim's behalf.