Millions of Brits don’t know how to detect or deal with identity theft, says Capital One

11 October 2007
A large number of people in Britain are unaware of how to detect whether they have been a victim of identity fraud and would not know how to deal with it if they have been a victim despite widespread awareness of the dangers, according to research from Capital One.

As National Identity Fraud Prevention Week gets underway, Capital One is highlighting the dangers of identity fraud and has found that 42 million Britons either do not know how to discover if they have had their identity stolen or what to do in that situation.

The research found that while 99 per cent of people are aware of the threat posed by ID fraud, and nearly 41 per cent are worried about it happening to them, only one in ten people said they would know exactly what to do if they suspected their identity has been taken.

Identity theft is a growing problem in the UK, whereby fraudsters can illegally apply for a range of financial services such as credit cards, mobile phone contracts, benefits, loans, driver’s licences and passports in other people’s names by obtaining their personal details. These debts are then registered in the innocent victim’s name and they are left to deal with debt collectors and court actions which can lead to problems getting credit in the future.

Capital One’s survey found that as many as 16 million Brits are not taking any action to protect themselves from ID theft; 2.5 million throw away personal documents such as bank statements without destroying them first, 5 million leave important information lying around in the home, 4.5 million carry sensitive information in their wallet or handbag, and 32.5 million do not store their information securely in the home.

Capital One outlines the tell-tale signs of ID fraud as unexplained items appearing on bank statements, receipts for bills of services that the individual has not applied for, or being refused credit despite having a good credit history.

It recommends the best course of action for the public to prevent becoming victims of ID theft is to take every action to protect personal information, such as redirecting mail, shredding important documents, safeguarding PINs and passwords and getting a copy of their credit report to make sure that no applications have been made in their name.

If an individual does fall victim, the Home Office recommends contacting the financial service provider concerned, such as the bank or credit card company and, dependant on their advice, the local police station, report all lost or stolen documents, and to get a credit report to see exactly what has been applied for in their name.

Sanjiv Yajnik, Principal Managing Director, Capital One says: “We welcome such high-profile awareness raising campaigns as the National Identity Fraud Prevention week as it is concerning how many people our research reveals have no idea how to tell if their ID had been stolen, or what to do about it if they had unfortunately become a victim.

Learn more about Identity Theft, and get a Free Credit Report

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