An astonishing one in three people in the UK are failing to take the most basic security measures in order to protect their identities according to a new study*.
Following recent reports which revealed that one in four UK adults – 12.275 million people – has fallen victim to identity crime, The City of London Police has launched an awareness campaign to target the growing threat of identity crime. It is believed that on average £1,200 each is lost in such crimes, with an estimated total loss of £3.3 billion to the UK adult population*.
The ‘Not With My Name’ campaign working alongside Cyber Streetwise urges people to protect their personal information on and offline whilst sharing tips to raise awareness. Worryingly the survey shows that many people are not taking the correct steps to avoid risk of identity fraud:
- Online security – 1 in 3 (34%) do not regularly update their firewall or antivirus software;
- Social media –1 in 3 (35%) do not limit the amount of information they share on social media;
- Safe disposal of documents – 1 in 3 (31%) of people do not shred letters before throwing them away.
Anyone can fall victim to identity crime by having their personal information stolen from them online, over the phone or when out in the street. Criminals then use this to further illegal activity, hide their identity from police and launder money.
Simon Dukes, Chief Executive of Cifas, the UK’s independent fraud prevention service, states ‘We know that people lead increasingly demanding and busy lives, with many people reporting password fatigue or struggling to find the time to update their software securely and regularly. We need to change the way we think about our identities and prioritise protecting them.’
The good news is there are a number of simple steps you can take to protect yourself from identity fraud, here are a few handy tips from Action Fraud:
Tip 1: Be careful who you give your personal information to and how
Tip 2: Make it as difficult as possible to crack your personal passwords
Tip 3: Always destroy or securely store personal documents or mail
Tip 4: Don’t respond to unsolicited phone calls or emails
Tip 5: Protect your personal devices
The campaign also coincides with the introduction of new legislation which has been put in place to prevent criminals producing false identity documents using industrialised printing equipment. The Specialist Printing Equipment and Material (Offences) Act 2015 will enable police officers to arrest people who supply specialist printing equipment to criminals, making it harder for criminals to operate.
If you have been victim, or believe you may have been victim to Fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
*The survey on take up of security measures was conducted by ComRes on behalf of Cifas. ComRes interviewed 4,061 GB adults online between 25th February and 1st March 2015.