Global Economics

ID Fraud: It's Usually Your Fault


Britain tries to raise awareness of identity theft and warns that too many are still throwing away sensitive information

National identity fraud protection week has kicked off with a warning that 79 per cent of Brits are still being careless when it comes to safeguarding their personal data.

Three-quarters of UK adults have either been affected by identity fraud or know someone who has, according to a poll commissioned for the ID fraud prevention campaign.

And when it comes to sensitive data, the state of bins in Blighty is a disgrace. More than 19 million households throw away sensitive materials, either with the rubbish or the recycling, according to research. And a third of Brits discard everything a fraudster needs to commit ID theft - including passports, driving licences, CVs and utility bills.

According to the bin-raiding study, in just one week 82 per cent of households in Glasgow disposed of material that could have been used by a fraudster. Residents of Wandsworth in London were almost as careless: 74 per cent chucked away sensitive material.

Meanwhile, credit referencing company Experian has warned residents of the London Borough of Kensington to be on their guard - they are almost five times more likely to fall victim to ID fraud than the UK average.

The capital remains the hotspot for identity theft in the UK. Londoners are more than three-and-a-half times more likely than the national average to fall foul of fraudsters. While people living in rented accommodation are also at increased risk.

Experian added that the rate at which new ID fraud victims are coming forward is continuing to grow, increasing by 68 per cent year-on-year.

And while this may reinforce the idea that ID fraud is a growing problem, increased public awareness of the threat may also account for a rise in the number of people identifying themselves as victims - which is progress of sorts, although many Brits are still clearly not doing enough to safeguard themselves.

Helen Lord, fraud and regulatory compliance director at Experian, said in a statement: "Although some people are more likely than others to become a victim [of ID fraud], and consumers are more aware of the threat than ever before, everyone is a potential victim. The rate of identity fraud growth continues to be scary." She added: "No one should be complacent. They need to take active steps to protect themselves."

Experian advises businesses to conduct a data audit, review security around customer data, use electronic authentication and shred all paper documents before disposal in order to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters.

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