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Identity Fraud

Posted by StreetSafe on October 19, 2011

Identity fraud continues to rise with 4 million victims in UK alone – Yet consumers continue to be complacent with their identities

Cumbria Constabulary joins partners of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week to issue a stark warning to public: individuals could be risking up to £9,000 as a result of ID fraud

National Identity Fraud Prevention Week (NIDFPW) started this week to alert consumers and businesses to the threat of identity fraud at home and at work. For the seventh year running, NIDFPW brings together partners from both the private and public sector, providing a broad range of expertise and resources to help consumers and businesses protect themselves against identity fraud.

According to research commissioned by Fellowes exclusively for the campaign, although 95% of the UK population are now aware of the threat and risks of identity fraud, the number of victims is still rising as people continue to be careless with their identities. 7% of the UK population have been victims of identity fraud, equating to over 4 million people. The average cost of these incidents to each victim is £1,190, but some individuals have lost up to £9,000.

Statistics from CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, reported that the number of identity fraud cases declared to the authorities in the UK continue to rise, with over 80,000 reported in the UK so far this year.

When it comes to identity fraud, prevention is always key. Some easy ways for individuals to protect themselves include:

• Always checking for unfamiliar transactions on bank statements
• Shredding all documents containing sensitive information using a cross cut shredder before throwing them away
• Looking into mail that goes missing
• Carrying out regular personal credit report checks
• Redirecting post for at least six months when moving house
• Limiting the amount of information shared when using social networking sites

Cumbria Constabulary’s Deputy Chief Constable Stuart Hyde said: “It is important that people in Cumbria understand the risks that identity fraud presents and the simple steps that can be taken to protect themselves from becoming a victim of crime.

“Like many crimes, people think that it just ‘won’t happen to them’ but it is important that people are vigilant with their bank accounts and double check things that don’t seem right so that if it does happen, it can be spotted quickly. These sort of thieves hide behind their computer screens and can steal somebody’s life savings without ever coming into contact with them so they need to be traced and stopped.

“Thankfully, identity fraud is not a major problem in Cumbria although we know that a lot of frauds go unreported so are unknown to police or Action Fraud.

“Our teams of financial investigators have joined forces with Action Fraud who provide a dedicated service to detecting and preventing fraud in Cumbria and the UK.”

Jamey Johnson, head of Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting and advice centre, said: “Stealing an identity is just the beginning for a fraudster. With few details, accounts can be taken over, loans can be applied for and purchases can be made, all without the consent or knowledge of the individual, potentially costing the victim substantial sums of money. Last month alone (September) Action Fraud saw over £245,000 worth of loss due to identity theft. The worrying part is that this figure was generated from a limited amount of reports, suggesting the amount lost to ID theft would be much higher if more people were reporting.

“It is important to report a loss to Action Fraud, but it is more important to protect yourself from it happening in the first place. Limiting access to your personal information is the key to safety from ID fraud. Remember, personal details are as valuable as cash to a fraudster.”

For more tips and advice on how to prevent identity fraud, visit the campaign’s website, http://www.stop-idfraud.co.uk The website contains a downloadable advice pack for consumers as well as a business guide.

This year’s campaign is supported by the Metropolitan Police, City of London Police, Fellowes, Norton, the National Fraud Authority, IFCAG, Equifax, CIFAS – The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, Scottish Business Crime Centre, e-Crime Scotland, the Home Office and the Royal Mail.

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