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ID fraud rife in the UK - Which?

Editor's ID easily lifted by cheeky researcher

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A quarter of UK adults have had their identity stolen or know somebody who's been a victim of growing crime, a study by Which? published Wednesday reveals. The Consumers' Association magazine reckons identity fraud is the country's fastest growing crime, costing the economy an estimated £1.3bn a year.

As part of its investigation a Which? researcher was able to purloin the identity of editor Malcolm Coles with "relative ease". He obtained a copy of Coles' birth certificate, his mother's maiden name, selling price of his house at the time he bought it, medical data and information on his boss' shopping habits - even how often he visited the gym.

Attempts to access his credit card account only failed because Coles had forgotten to tell his bank about his new address. "I couldn't believe how easy it was for someone else to assume my identity. If this is what an amateur can do, imagine how easy it is for an experienced criminal," Coles said.

Which? says consumers can take a number of simple steps to avoid getting caught out by ID fraudsters. These include not using your mother's maiden name or place of birth as security password, shredding sensitive documents before binning them and to avoid using the same password on more than one account. Half the people Which? quizzed used the same password for all their accounts. ®

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