Feeds

Brits bin their identity as ID thieves prosper

Just shred-it

Seven Steps to Software Security

More Brits than ever are placing themselves at risk of identity fraud, despite awareness campaigns warning them of the dangers.

Organisers of the second National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, which begins on Monday, hope their educational campaign will finally get the message across.

The campaign, backed by the Metropolitan Police, Crimestoppers, The Identity and Passport Service, CIFAS - The UK's Fraud Prevention Service - Fellowes, the Federation of Small Businesses, and various credit reference agencies, aim to put a stop to the British public's complacency.

Bin-raiding research commissioned by Fellowes for the campaign revealed that 97 per cent of households, representing over 21 million homes in the UK, regularly dump material stating their full name, address, and postcode.

While a failure not to shred all items of junk mail might be understandable, three in 10 throw away bills and other information that exposes either their credit or debit card numbers. Meanwhile, 46 per cent put items that contained their bank account number and sort code in the bin, rather than destroying it more securely.

The researchers concluded that nearly half (48 per cent) of households had insecurely discarded documents that would give everything a fraudster would need to steal a person's identity.

Exposure to the problem from information carefully discarded in rubbish bins is 20 per cent up on that found during similar research carried out by the campaign last year. The latest study revealed that not everyone in the same household behaves in the same careless way.

As part of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, Professor Martin Gill, an academic and expert in identity fraud, looked at offender and victim perspectives on the problem.

Offenders in this study adopted a range of approaches to commit identity fraud using paper-based documents including stealing information from dustbins; swiping post; impersonating the dead, using birth certificates of the deceased; stealing personal documents as part of other crimes, for example, burglaries and street theft; and redirecting post to obtain people's personal details.

Stolen documents were vital for crooks in tricking credit card companies or banks into opening bogus credit card or bank accounts. Reducing the opportunities to commit paper-based identity fraud should involve raising public awareness of the issue and countermeasures - such as shredding documents containing personal details and regularly checking bank statements for suspicious transactions. More stringent procedures by credit providers and similar organisations when verifying applications are also needed, the study concluded.

Victims of identity fraud often experience problems reclaiming their identity and sorting out the mess fraudsters have made of their finances. Identities stolen using paper documents or online can be used to perpetrate ID theft, one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK. Ultimately, we all pay for the problem as bank and credit firms pass on the cost of fraud through higher fees.

As part of a drive designed to spread public awareness about the dangers of ID theft, the campaign has set up a website, stop-idfraud.co.uk, which includes tips on how to defend yourself against the threat. The site also features a fun-filled "how at risk you are" test. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.