More needs to be done to prevent identity fraud

09 October 2007
As the UK’s third National Identity Fraud Prevention Week gets underway (October 8-14), research suggests that people are still not doing enough to protect their identities.

Home Office minister with responsibility for identity fraud, Meg Hillier MP, said: "Identity fraud is a serious problem and is often the 'tip of the iceberg', enabling other criminal activity such as benefit fraud, illegal immigration, illegal working, drug trafficking, and terrorism.”

A Populus poll commissioned for the campaign found that 79 per cent of people in the UK are still not taking enough care with personal information, despite the fact that identity fraud is one of the country’s fastest growing crimes.

The survey showed that three-quarters of UK adults have either been personally affected, or know of friends and family who have been affected, by identity fraud, while 80 per cent said they were afraid of having their identity stolen.

Research commissioned by Fellowes revealed that more than 19 million households regularly place sensitive materials in bins; 13 per cent throw away a complete card number with its associated expiry date and owner’s signature; and one-third throws away all the components needed to steal a person’s identity, including passports, driving licences, CVs and utility bills.

This information can then be used by fraudsters to apply for credit cards, mobile phone contracts, and even for opening bank accounts. These documents can also be used by offenders as proof of identity.

Although the number of households regularly placing sensitive materials in bins appears to have fallen by 18 per cent compared with last year, those involved in the prevention week are still urging people to take simple steps to protect themselves.

These include shredding documents, checking bank statements, obtaining a credit report, redirecting mail when moving house and refusing to divulge personal information to unknown individuals or groups, either by phone, email or face-to-face.

Fraud and regulatory compliance director at Experian, Helen Lord, said:

”Those affected by identity fraud know just how distressing, confusing and inconvenient it can be.”

“We should all be looking after our personal information because it is as precious as the cash in our wallets,” she added.

Find out more about identity theft

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