How careful are you with your personal data?
Equifax urges consumers to take greater care of their personal data – as new research reveals that 6 out 10 frauds in 2013 used identity details
Equifax, the ID fraud expert, is urging consumers to take greater care of their personal data as new research* from CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, reveals that over 60% of frauds recorded on their database in 2013 were the result of the abuse of identity details. Whilst some of this would have been based on the creation of fictitious identities by the fraudsters, a proportion of it would have been taking the name of an innocent victim to get products or services.
As Neil Munroe, External Affairs Director for Equifax explains, many people still seem unaware of the risks of identity fraud – and also unaware of the length of time it can take to get matters resolved after a fraud is identified. “There are so many ways that a person’s identity is at risk. From shopping online where all sorts of personal information is often requested – and handed over in return for special offers and discounts – to keeping receipts in wallets or throwing away financial statements and documents without shredding them.
“We are also concerned that many people still don’t realise how easy it is for fraudsters to use the personal information available on social networking sites to steal their identity and open accounts in their name. And then there’s the use of mobiles and smartphones for storing all sorts of personal information. Mobiles, smartphones and tablet devices have become the equivalent of our diary, address book and general aide memoire. Whilst that’s good news for staying organised it does also mean that if a mobile device is stolen, a lot of valuable information immediately falls into the hands of fraudsters who, without too much effort, could steal personal or business identities.
“Fraudsters are very clever and can quickly go through a phone list to spot numbers that clearly aren’t telephone numbers – such as PINs and payment card numbers. They can also look at a diary to get clues about names used for passwords and might even be able to guess bank and credit card accounts by the apps stored on a smartphone.
“If email addresses or mobile number gets into the wrong hands, consumers can find themselves targeted by phishing scams designed to trick them out of their information and money. And a stolen wallet from a handbag can be much more valuable to the thief than just the cash and credit cards. All the other personal information – driving licence, family photos, etc – can also help them build a picture to take over the victim’s identity.
“It’s important to understand the value of your private information and take precautions to keep ID fraud at bay because fraudsters can need as little as three pieces of personal data to begin fraudulent activity.”
Equifax also urges consumers to regularly monitor their credit report for any changes to accounts or new accounts they didn’t authorise, and to help protect their personal information online with Equifax WebDetect. The 24/7 ID monitoring solution helps keep consumers one step ahead of fraudsters by alerting them to potential unauthorised trading of their personal information. WebDetect is free for customers purchasing their Equifax Credit Report or Credit Score.
The Equifax Credit Report is accessible for 30 days free simply by logging onto www.equifax.co.uk. If customers do not cancel before the end of the 30 Day Free Trial, the service will continue at £9.95 per month, giving them unlimited online access to their credit information and weekly alerts on any changes to their credit file.
Equifax Tips To Protect Against Id Fraud
- Regularly apply for a copy of your credit file to look out for any unauthorised activity
- Shred statements, bills and direct mail which contains personal information
- Redirect mail if you move
- Keep your PIN and passwords secure and ensure they are not easy to guess
- Always check bank statements and credit card statements carefully against receipts
- Be careful of what you carry around in your handbag or wallet. Credit card receipts, payslips, driving licence, 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 smartphone, tablet or laptop devices - ensure these devices are themselves properly PIN or password protected – because if they are stolen fraudster may have access to all your Facebook details
- Do a factory reset when trading in an old phone to wipe it clean and remove any personal data
- If you are disposing of an old 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
*CIFAS Fraudscape Report, published March 2014
For further press information, please contact: Clare Watson, Cecile Stearn, Parm Heer or Wendy Harrison at HSL on 020 8977 9132 / Fax: 020 8977 5200 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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. Its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. For more information, please visit www.equifax.com.