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As identity fraud hits record levels, survey reveals that people are still not protecting themselves

23 June 2017
  • Action Fraud, the City of London Police, Cifas and Equifax launch identity fraud campaign with the hashtag #AreYouOneofThem
  • YouGov survey commissioned by Equifax reveals that people in the UK are aware that they need to improve their online safety but still aren’t doing so. The #AreYouOneofThem campaign asks are you one of those people?
  • Identity fraud is estimated to cost the UK £5.4 billion per year (Annual Fraud Indicator 2016)
  • 172,919 people reported identity fraud to Cifas in 2016 with the reporting figures steadily rising since 2008 

Today (Tuesday 27 June 2017) Action Fraud, the City of London Police, Cifas and Equifax have launched an identity fraud campaign, asking members of the public to consider how careful they are with their personal and financial details. A recent YouGov survey, commissioned by Equifax, found that the UK population are failing to take basic steps like protecting passwords or installing anti-virus software to protect their identities from criminals.

Identity fraud has been growing steadily over the past 10 years according to the 2016 Annual Fraud Indicator and it is estimated that the cost of identity fraud to the UK is £5.4billion.

Figures* show that identity fraud now represents over half of all fraud recorded by Cifas members, with nine out of 10 perpetrated online*. In 2016, 172,919 people reported identity fraud to Cifas.  

The recent survey commissioned by Equifax has helped to reveal some of the public’s attitudes towards protecting their identity.

The survey found:

  • 55% of people surveyed access public Wi-Fi that is not password protected;
  • 40% of people do not have antivirus software installed on their devices;
  • 27% of people use the same password for multiple accounts;
  • 32% admit that they are at risk to identity fraud because of their behaviour;
  • 31% of people think the over 60’s are the most at risk to fraud.

This shows that some UK citizens are still leaving their doors wide open to identity fraudsters. The #AreYouOneofThem campaign is urging people to be more vigilant to help protect themselves from fraudsters. 

City of London Police, Commander Dave Clark,  National Police Coordinator for Economic Crime said:
“The recent survey results have highlighted that we need to do more to protect ourselves from fraudsters. There is a common misconception that only old people fall victim to fraud but reports show that every age and demographic is affected.

“There is no doubt that identity fraud is a growing problem and this is why we have launched our #AreYouOneofThem campaign . We want to draw people’s attention to identity fraud and to highlight the risks they face when sharing details online.

“Throughout the week we are urging people to think about their online behaviour and look at our advice to find out what they can do to protect themselves from identity fraud”. 

Lisa Hardstaff, identity fraud expert at Equifax said:
“How people manage and store their passwords for their online accounts is the first line of defence to keeping their personal information safe and secure from fraudsters.

“The fact that just under a third use the same password for multiple accounts and slightly more admitted to writing them down, clearly demonstrates people are being complacent and are of the belief that their personal information won’t be at risk.

“The majority also thought that it is the over 60s that are most at risk of identity fraud, but the reality is that ID fraud is an indiscriminate crime that affects all ages in the UK irrespective of where they live or how much they earn. Everyone is vulnerable – so everyone needs to be vigilant.”

Simon Dukes, Chief Executive at Cifas said:
“With nine out of ten identity frauds committed online, identity fraud continues to be a significant fraud threat.  Our statistics show that all age groups are at risk, with younger people increasingly so, therefore we welcome this new campaign and urge everyone to take more responsibility in protecting their personal information and avoid making themselves an easy target for the identity fraudster.

“However, it isn’t just members of the public that need to be mindful of the threat, the survey also reveals that 52% of people wouldn’t be willing to share their personal details with organisations that have lost customer data.  The fight against fraud is a collaborative effort. This finding should serve as a wake-up call to any organisation that handles personal data. The consequences of not taking data security seriously can directly impact an organisation’s bottom-line as well its reputation.”

How to protect yourself from identity fraud

  • Set your privacy settings across all the social media channels you use. And just think twice before you share details – in particular your full date of birth, your address, contacts details – all this information can be useful to fraudsters!
  • Password protect your devices. Keep your passwords complex by picking three random words, such as roverducklemon and add or split them with symbols, numbers and capitals:R0v3rDuckLemon!.
  • Install anti-virus software on your laptop and any other personal devices and then keep it up to date. MoneySavingExpert have a recommended list of the best free anti-virus software.
  • Take care on public Wi-Fi – fraudsters hack them or mimic them. If you’re using one, avoid accessing sensitive apps such as mobile banking.
  • Download updates to your software when your device prompts you – they often add enhanced security features.

What to do if you're a victim

ACT FAST if you think you have been a victim of identity fraud

  • If you receive any mail or email that seems suspicious or implies you have an account with the sender when you don’t, do not ignore it.
  • Get a copy of your credit report as it is one of the first places you can spot if someone is misusing your personal information – before you suffer financial loss. Review every entry on your credit report and if you see an account or even a credit search from a company that you do not recognise, notify the credit reference agency. They all offer a free service to victims of fraud.
  • Individuals or businesses who have fallen victim to identity fraud should report to Action Fraud.
  • If you have information about those committing identity crime please tell independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or at their website.
  • If you have been a victim of fraud, you can contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice and support. Victim Support is the independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales. 

Table 1 - Year on year breakdown of UK total identity fraud figures

2008

77,642

2009

102,327

2010

102,672

2011

113,259

2012

123,589

2013

108,554

2014

113,839

2015

169,592

2016

172,919

 

*Table 2 - Age breakdown of victims of impersonation 

 

2015

2016

%

Under 21

1343

1803

34%

21-30

22616

22572

-0.19%

31-40

36502

33883

-7%

41-50

33702

34010

0.91%

51-60

28366

29818

5%

60

25934

26043

0.42%

 

*Table 3 - Regional victim of impersonation figures

Region

East

East Midlands

North East

North West

South East

South West

Wales

West Midlands

Yorkshire & the Humber

London

Scotland

Northern Ireland

2015

19,814

7,679

2,803

15,732

20,813

5,722

2,921

9,732

10,275

56,081

5,322

1,116

2016

18,094

9,248

3,290

16,332

23,169

6,390

3,238

11,346

11,130

51,532

5,410

1,231

% Change

-9%

20%

17%

4%

11%

12%

11%

17%

8%

-8%

2%

10%

 

Case study available for interview

The first Peter Cregan knew of his identity fraud attack was when he received a £652 bill from a mail order company he had never shopped with. It took over six months for Peter to undo the damage left behind by the fraudsters. And once he had resolved the issue he wanted the peace of mind that if anyone tried to use his identity again he would know about it as quickly as possible.

As soon as Peter received the bill, he contacted the mail order company concerned.  Its fraud department investigated and found that someone had opened an account under his name.  They, therefore, placed Peter on the Cifas register which flags Peter’s name to lenders so that extra checks are put in place if anyone, including him, tries to open an account in his name.

But whilst the fraudsters were long gone with the goods, Peter was left with the bill and all the stress of sorting out his accounts and finances.  “Even though I was the victim, it felt like I had to prove it, making for a very stressful period after the attack”, explained Peter Cregan. “I think that companies have a responsibility to look after their customers’ data and now I ask myself if I really need to give my information to new companies I am dealing with.”

If you would like to interview Peter, please contact the Equifax press office (contact details below). 

About the City of London Police 

The City of London Police is responsible for policing the City’s business district, the ‘Square Mile’ in the historical centre of London.  In addition, it holds national responsibility for Economic Crime and under this remit is host to Action Fraud (the national fraud and cybercrime reporting service), the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department and the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit. The City of London continues to be one of the safest urban areas in the country.

The City of London Police press office can be contacted on 020 7601 2220. 

About Cifas

Cifas aims to make the UK a safer place to do business, by enabling organisations in every sector to prevent fraud and protect the public through the sharing of confirmed fraud data. Cifas is a not-for-profit organisation and has almost 400 members spanning the public and private sectors. In 2016 alone, Cifas members prevented over £1 billion of avoidable fraud losses by using Cifas databases. Cifas also offers Protective Registration for individuals whose identities are at risk of being used fraudulently, for instance after a burglary. In 2014, Cifas launched a scheme called Protecting the Vulnerable. This service is offered free of charge to local authorities to protect those under the care of Court Deputies who are unable to access financial products and whose identities may be at risk.

For more information, please contact Sarah Samee on 020 3004 3609 or email.

About Equifax

Equifax, Inc. (“Equifax”) powers the financial future of individuals and organizations around the world. Using the combined strength of unique trusted data, technology and innovative analytics, Equifax has grown from a consumer credit company into a leading provider of insights and knowledge that helps its customers make informed decisions. The company organizes, assimilates and analyses data on more than 800 million consumers and more than 88 million businesses worldwide, and its databases include employee data contributed from more than 5,000 employers.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., Equifax operates or has investments in 24 countries in North America, Central and South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. It is a member of Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500® Index, and its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. Equifax employs approximately 9,200 employees worldwide.

Some noteworthy achievements for the company include: Ranked 13 on the American Banker FinTech Forward list (2015); named a Top Technology Provider on the FinTech 100 list (2004-2015); named an InformationWeek Elite 100 Winner (2014-2015); named a Top Workplace by Atlanta Journal Constitution (2013-2015); named one of Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies (2011-2015); named one of Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Innovative Companies (2015). For more information, visit www.equifax.com.

Equifax Limited is one of the Equifax group companies based in the UK.

Equifax Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

For further press information, please contact: Clare Watson, Cecile Stearn, Parm Heer or Wendy Harrison at HSL on 020 8977 9132, fax 020 8977 5200 or equifaxbtocteam@harrisonsadler.com.

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Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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