Millions at risk of ID fraudNearly half of UK households bin personal details

16 October 2006

Millions of British homes are throwing out confidential information in their rubbish which could allow fraudsters to steal their identity, a new survey has found.

Experts estimate that more than 21 million homes are under threat of identity fraud because people are failing to take simple steps to render their private information unusable.

The warning comes after researchers raked through and analysed rubbish from homes in a number of south London streets over one week.

The investigation revealed that 97 per cent of households regularly binned materials stating their full name, sex, title, address and post code.

Personal details

The survey also found that 30 per cent of homes had thrown out their full credit or debit card number while 48 per cent had thrown away all the information criminals require to carry out identity fraud.

The results – which were commissioned by document shredder manufacturer Fellowes - were published to mark the beginning of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week.

Fellowes spokesman Tyron Hill said: ‘People spend thousands of pounds protecting their homes against burglary. However, this research shows that virtually everyone in the country is...handing over their identity to bin raiders...people have got to stop being so complacent and must start to put up a fight against identity fraud.’

Which? anti-fraud tips

 Here are Which?'s top tips to avoid ID fraud:

  • make sure that you're not using your mother's maiden name or place of birth as a security password
  • check your credit file every year (and especially just after you've moved). If you change address, make sure you pass on your new details to your bank and anyone else who sends you post. You should also ask Royal Mail to redirect post
  • don't just toss your old post straight in the bin. Rip it up, burn it in the garden or buy a shredder. Be especially careful with 'pre-approved', partly filled-in bank credit forms
  • never use the same password for more than one account. If you bank online, use a different password for other websites
  • try not to carry details of your home address along with your bank cards in a purse or wallet. This also applies to your driving licence. Don't carry it unless you specifically need it that day. Even if you are stopped by the police, you have seven days to present it.