Recent research commissioned by UK Fraud Prevention Month has judged the UK as Europe’s worst country for identity fraud.
Almost 25pc of Britons have been a victim of identity fraud at some point in their lives. This number is significantly higher than the average across Europe of 17pc. The second most afflicted country was Russia with their percentage of identity fraud victims at 20pc.
While nearly a quarter have been direct victims of various types of identity fraud, three quarters of the UK’s population have been exposed to scams. Technology scams tend to be most common with many Britons receiving counterfeit emails, phone calls or text messages alleging to be their bank requesting personal details.
According to figures from the UK Card Association, ‘card not present’ frauds via the internet, telephone or mail order account for the vast majority of identity fraud crimes in the UK with £115.8m lost in this way between January and June of this year, a 6% increase on the previous year’s figures.
Although the introduction of ‘Chip and PIN’ has helped to deter banking fraud, it has also led to criminals adapting to different methods to get hold of personal information, bank cards and PIN numbers such as distracting customers in shops or at cashpoints.
A method which is believed to be particularly targeted towards the elderly involves telephoning persons pretending to be their bank saying their debit/credit card has incurred a problem and need to be collected, asking them to enter their PIN ‘for security reasons’ and then sending a courier to the door to collect the card.
It is not just the financial information that many fraudsters are looking for, with personal identity fraud growing, many criminals will not look for personal identification items such as driving licenses, passports or household bills which can then be used to try and steal identities. In some of the worst cases, houses have been purchased in the name of the victim.
Neil Monroe, a spokesperson for the UK Fraud Prevention Month Campaign called for action from consumers to help keep themselves safe and protected from identity fraud,
“Stealing your personal information is where most fraud begins. With a stolen ID a fraudster can effectively become you – taking money, buying property, setting up bank and phone accounts all in your name.”
"We are all using computers for shopping and socialising with friends and we are receiving more post than ever before, whether it's a bank statement or a piece of direct mail. This leaves us all open to risk from ID fraud if we do not take action to protect ourselves."
Useful tips offered from the campaign include checking bank statements thoroughly for unfamiliar transactions and then shredding them, sheltering your PIN when entering it at any location and never disclosing it via telephone or online - even to your bank themselves.