CIFAS – the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service publish some rather worrying statistics when it comes to identity fraud and general theft of personal data for illicit purposes. Their data shows that there are two types of ID theft:
- Identity Fraud – where personal/confidential information which has been stolen is used to obtain goods or services. Or alternatively, the stolen information is often used to forged identity documents including passports, driving licences and more. These false documents can then be used to apply for credit cards, loans or other financial services.
- Account Takeover – is another sort of identity theft where an individual’s bank accounts are taken over and drained dry.
Neither of these types of identity fraud is pleasant for the victim and in this time of recession within the UK (and worldwide) ID fraud is on the rise. In 2007, 2008 and 2009, there were over 65,000 incidents of identity fraud annually and a sharp rise in the number of account takeovers from 6,272 in 2007 to well over 16,000 in 2009. The steep rise in 2009 onwards, shows that not only that identity theft is becoming more prevalent but also that the knowledge about how to prevent it is not sufficiently widespread. It’s not only the individual that suffers from ID theft, but society as a whole. Banking institutions, loan companies, insurance firms and the providers of goods and services all suffer as a result of identity fraud and generally the cost is passed on to the consumer. The result is – everyone suffers. It is estimated that that identity fraud costs the UK economy over £1 billion per annum.
Identity Fraud Facts and Figures
The facts and figures of identity fraud are pretty shocking:
- The average amount stolen from a victim through identity fraud is over £1,000, yet only 7% of people have been a victim. Despite this, 95% of Britons believe ID fraud is a direct threat to them.
- 25% of people in the UK do not shred confidential documents at home.
- 96% of people believe that organisations do not handle their data correctly and as a result they might be at risk of ID fraud through the actions of others.
- In the UK, there are around 4.3 million victims of identity fraud to date and the number of victims continues to grow.
- Statistics show that around 18 million households in the UK are failing to properly protect themselves from the risk of ID theft.
Yet identity theft protection is simply a matter of education in prevention methods. In many instances, this simply involves encouraging home owners and individuals to shred important and confidential documents before disposing of them in their weekly rubbish – because this is where the biggest threat lies – criminals rifling through your rubbish. Obviously shredding all your paperwork is a hassle and takes time, but there is an alternative. The Japanese have invented an ID protection stamp, which is a simple stamp that when used quickly and easily covers and obscures personal data and cuts out the need for shredding. Confidential waste can then be put to better use and recycled rather than thrown in the landfill – while you can remain confident that your data is safe and secure.
Don’t be a victim of ID fraud, protect your data simply and easily with little hassle or fuss.
Adrian writes on behalf of Stamps Direct – the UK’s exclusive supplier of the ID protection stamp.