Identity fraud continues to rise with 4 million victims in UK alone – yet consumers continue to be complacent with their identities.
According to research commissioned by Fellowes, although 95 per cent 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 personal information.
Seven per cent of the UK population have been victims of identity fraud, equating to more than four million people. The average cost of these incidents to each victim is £1,190, but some individuals have lost up to £9,000.
In conjunction with the National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, the Metropolitan Police Service warned individuals that they could be risking thousands of pounds as a result of an ID fraud incident.
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.
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.”