Public Affairs Director, Experian International
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Irish need to protect against an identity crisis
Guide on how to protect against Identity Fraud launched
Nottingham, UK, 5 February 2008 - Experian®, the global information services company, today warned that Irish consumers and financial services organisations must look to the UK and learn from its experiences in identity theft in order to ensure that its growth in Ireland is monitored and contained.
At the launch of a new Irish guide entitled How to Protect Your Identity - Identity Fraud Explained, Experian Director Richie Smith warned against “complacency on the issue of identity fraud” and suggested that Ireland’s experience of identity fraud could soon match that of the UK, where calls to Experian’s Victims of Fraud service increased by 68% in the first 6 months of 2007.
The Experian guide highlights how a person can easily become a victim of identity fraud, what they can do to protect themselves against it and outlines who to contact if they feel their identity may be at risk. Richie Smith said: “The Irish and the UK marketplaces are very similar so if there is a rise in identify fraud in the UK, where organisations are working against it, one can expect that the issue is equally relevant and must be addressed in Ireland.”
The biggest risks in relation to ID fraud are the disposal of personal information in bins/green bins and the posting of personal information on Internet social network sites.
Bin raiding sees criminals target the domestic refuse of a homeowner in order to obtain personal and financial information to assume their identity. Social networking sites, such as Bebo and Facebook, can also increase the risk of identify fraud as many people post detailed personal information and photographs on their site. Experian warns that by revealing such information, a person may become a target for ID fraudsters.
Richie Smith said: “Those responsible for identity theft and its ensuing fraud are very sophisticated criminals. They build a profile of a person and then shadow that person until they have enough information to open accounts and run up debts in their name.”
Experian highlighted a study it carried out in Camden, London, which revealed that 67% of bins contained the full name and address of at least one household member, 7% contained a whole credit card number and expiry date, while 10% had thrown away credit card receipts with some number information present and 6% had a signature present. The study found that in all cases, more affluent areas provided higher opportunities for fraudsters, with high income families and high income singletons proving more careless when disposing of personal information. Those living in rental accommodation are also at increased risk as criminals can more easily access refuse areas within large apartment blocks.
Richie Smith said: “Although the survey was carried out in the UK, I have no doubt similar results would be found in Ireland. Most people now have green bins, which are a magnet for identity fraudsters as they contain clean and dry information separated from domestic waste. The reality is that we all throw information into these bins which can be used by fraudsters.”
The Experian Identity Fraud Explained information leaflet advises to:
The Experian guide, Identity Fraud Explained can be downloaded from its website www.experian.ie.
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