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Warning over protecting personal details

National ID fraud week to educate consumers

National Identity Fraud Prevention Week (NIFPW) begins today with a warning that 8 out of 10 people are careless with their personal details.

The campaign aims to educate consumers and businesses on the dangers of identity fraud, and the preventative steps that should be taken.

The awareness drive comes as a parliamentary group called for the creation of an Identity Fraud Tsar to co-ordinate the efforts to tackle the crime.

Stolen ID

Despite constant warnings over identity fraud, which is still one of the UK’s fastest growing crimes, a poll shows that three quarters of UK adults have been affected by the crime and 80 % of Britons fear having their identity stolen. 

National bin-raiding research, carried out for National Identity Fraud Protection Week, reveals that the vast majority of people are haphazardly disposing of the information a fraudster needs to steal our identity. The research found that:

  • Over 19 million households regularly throw sensitive materials in their waste and recycling bins
  • One in ten throw away whole credit/debit card numbers – a combination of a complete card number with its associated expiry date and owner’s signature was found in the waste and recycling of one in ten of households
  • A third of us are still throwing away everything a fraudster needs to steal a person’s identity, including passports, driving licences, CVs, phone and utility bills

Shred paperwork

Which? Money Editor Martyn Hocking said: ‘The quickest way to put a stop to bin-raiders is to invest in a Which? Best Buy shredder like the Fellowes Shredmate High Security (£25).

‘Passing all your old financial paperwork through it before you throw it away will put a stop to anyone interested in stealing bank statements and the like.’

There are several ways ID fraudsters may potentially target consumers.

These include: theft of personal documents or security information; stealing post from communal hallways; using mail which has not been redirected after someone has moved; duping consumers to disclose personal details online; or bin raiding. 

ID fraudsters need more than one single piece of information or documentation to steal an identity.

Whilst an address, postcode, driving licence, passport, national insurance number or even a utility bill are not necessarily useful to a fraudster in isolation, collectively they are as valuable as cash to the ID fraudster, so they need to be stored securely or disposed with care. 

Home Office

Meg Hillier MP, the Home Office Minister with responsibility for identity fraud, 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.

‘It is vital that everyone takes appropriate steps to reduce the opportunities for criminals to use other people’s identity to commit fraud. This is not just about individuals protecting their own identity. All organisations, including government and businesses, have a responsibility to protect the personal details of employees and customers.’

National Identity Fraud Prevention Week takes place between 8 and 14 October. The campaign is supported by, among others, the Metropolitan Police and The Home Office.

For more tips on reducing your risk of ID theft see www.stop-idfraud.co.uk

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