Identity fraud fears 'growing'But simple precautions could prevent data theft

15 February 2008

Bank statement

You can challenge default bank charges you've paid in the past six years

More than half the British population now fears identity fraud, according to new research. 

Recent government fiascos over lost personal data have raised the number, estimated to be 55% of British people, according to a Direct Line survey. 

However a quarter of us now regularly check that our personal details are recorded correctly, while about one in seven said they were planning to change their bank account passwords. 

A third of respondents admitted that they had thrown away unshredded details of their address – address-related fraud is one of the most common fraud crimes. But only a little over one in ten said they intended to buy a shredder.

Precautions

New statistics, from Capital One Bank, also out today show that more than 24 million people are leaving themselves open to to identity theft by not taking simple precautions. 

Millions admit to throwing away old utility bills, bank statements and information from the government such as council tax statements or electoral role information without shredding them.

However in some aspects of their life people are taking more care. More than 85% of people said they were careful to conceal their Pin number when using a cash machine.

And 93 per cent agreed that there could be more identity fraud cases in the future, mainly because they believe fraudsters are getting more sophisticated in their methods.

Martyn Hocking, Editor of Which? Money, said: 'We are often told how sophisticated the modern ID fraudster can be, but in reality many consumers are still not taking even the most basic precautions to protect ourselves. Investing in a paper shredder - and using it to destroy all unwanted financial documents - has to be a sound investment.'

Protect yourself

Top tips for protection against identity theft:

  • keep important documents in a safe place
  • safeguard PIN and password details
  • shred old bank statements
  • don’t disclose personal details over the phone where possible; if you have to, ask for the callers details so that you can ring back to verify their identity
  • when moving house, subscribe to a redirection service and inform your bank and utility providers of your new address immediately.