Consumers have to become more 'information vigilant’ if they don’t want to fall victim to increasingly sophisticated fraudsters
(PRWEB UK) 24 January 2013
New analysis from CIFAS, the UK’s fraud prevention service, reveals that overall fraud increased year on year by 5% in 2012, with ID fraud making up 50% of all fraud. Leading ID fraud expert, Equifax, believes these new figures reflect the enormous growth in the use of personal data online and the storing of personal information on electronic devices. Whilst giving consumers greater accessibility to services, the burgeoning online world can also put consumers’ own personal data at more risk if they don’t take the right precautions.
“Consumers have to become more ‘information vigilant’ if they don’t want to fall victim to increasingly sophisticated fraudsters”, said Neil Munroe, External Affairs Director, Equifax. “We have been talking about the importance of keeping personal information safe for nearly a decade. It used to be about keeping printed documentation secure – driving licences, passports, etc. That’s still important. But now consumers also need to think very carefully about how much information they put online or on electronic devices and whether it’s properly protected.”
It’s not just about the theft of someone’s personal details to set up a new account. According to CIFAS, account takeover fraud – where a fraudster hijacks an existing account – has also grown by a staggering 53% compared to 2011.
“I think many people would be shocked to know how little information criminals need to be able to steal an identity, allowing them to open accounts, access money and even take out a mobile phone contract in another person’s name” continued Neil Munroe. “All it takes is a stolen bag or even just a Smartphone to gain access to enough personal information to steal someone’s identity.
“That’s why we believe ‘information vigilance’ has to be the priority for today’s e-enabled consumers. Think about who has access to your personal information; how and where you store it and how you protect it. One password for all online accounts is unwise; storing passwords in the address book of a smartphone isn’t a smart move either. And don’t give away clues to passwords through social media sites that carry details about the family and key dates.
“Many people don’t realise they have been a victim of fraud until the bills start rolling in from accounts they have never opened or when they get refused credit. But by then it’s too late, as the impact of fraud can take weeks or even months to put right.
“The stark rise in ID fraud should be a wakeup call to consumers who don’t protect or monitor their personal information.”
EQUIFAX’S TOP TIPS FOR KEEPING FRAUDSTERS AT BAY
- Be smart with your smartphone. Protect your phone with a password to secure all the personal information it contains.
- Be careful of what you carry around in your handbag or wallet. Credit card receipts, payslips, driving license, bank statement, utility bill, these all reveal a lot of information about you and a combination of these can be a fraudsters dream
- When using online banking, ensure people can’t view your details and log out of websites, rather than just closing the window
- No matter how much you trust your friends, work colleagues, do not give out your PIN under any circumstances
- Never store your PIN on mobile phones, Backberrys, tablets or laptops
- If you are disposing of an old phone, computer, or other electronic device that stores data make sure you remove the information from the hard drive
- Make sure your computer has the latest virus protection that ideally updates hourly and you have a Firewall
- Regularly check your credit file for any unauthorised applications for credit or new credit accounts
Consumers can also keep track of their credit report for signs of unauthorised activity. The Equifax Credit Report is accessible for 30 days free simply by logging ontoour website. If customers do not cancel before the end of the 30 Day Free Trial, the service will continue at £8.99 per month, giving them unlimited online access to their credit information and weekly alerts on any changes to their credit file. It also includes an online dispute facility to help them correct any errors on their credit file simply and quickly.
The Equifax app is available free from the Apple iTunes Store on iPhone and iPad and from Google Play for Androids.
Equifax is a global leader in consumer, commercial and workforce information solutions, providing businesses of all sizes and consumers with information they can trust. We organize and assimilate data on more than 500 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide, and use advanced analytics and proprietary technology to create and deliver customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax operates or has investments in 18 countries and is a member of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500® Index.