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Oct 17 2011

National Identity Fraud Prevention Week

Identity fraud continues to rise with 4 million victims in UK alone – yet consumers continue to be complacent with their identities

The Metropolitan Police Service joins partners of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week to issue a stark warning to public: individuals could be risking thousands of pounds as a result of an ID fraud incident.

National Identity Fraud Prevention Week (NIDFPW) starts today (Monday, 17 October) to alert consumers and businesses to the threat of identity fraud at home and at work. For the seventh year running, NIDFPW brings together partners from both the private and public sector, providing a broad range of expertise and resources to help consumers and businesses protect themselves against identity fraud.

According to research commissioned by Fellowes exclusively for the campaign, 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.

Operation Sterling – the Metropolitan Police Service’s fraud prevention unit – is leading the Met’s response to the 2011 National Identity Fraud Prevention Week campaign. This year their target audience is students.

Officers have already joined forces with local Safer Neighbourhood Teams to visit university fresher events where they have been handing out ID fraud prevention advice. They have also arranged a central London conference for professionals working with students, which will be held at The Council Chamber, The Old Marylebone Town Hall, Westminster Council House, 97-113 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5PT on the 19 October starting at 1000hrs.

Credit card crime and online fraud are just some of the topics that will be addressed by a range of speakers.

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.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Downing from Operation Sterling said:

“This week is a great opportunity to not only engage with the general public but to also highlight the numerous ways that fraudsters will use stolen or false IDs to commit other more serious crimes.

“The MPS are dedicated to tackling the ever changing threat of ID fraud, whether that be online, through postal scams, or over the phone.”

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.”

For more tips and advice on how to prevent identity fraud, visit the campaign’s website, www.stop-idfraud.co.uk. The website contains a downloadable advice pack for consumers as well as a business guide.

This year’s campaign is supported by the Metropolitan Police, City of London Police, Fellowes, Norton, the National Fraud Authority, IFCAG, Equifax, CIFAS – The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, Scottish Business Crime Centre, e-Crime Scotland, the Home Office and the Royal Mail.

Source: Metropolitan Police

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