Vigilance – and common-sense – vital to stop identity theft in its tracks

Equifax urges consumers to be ‘identity-savvy’ as CIFAS reports 27% increase in identity fraud in Quarter 1 2015

As CIFAS, the UK’s fraud prevention service reports a 27% increase in identity fraud in the first quarter of 2015*, credit information provider, Equifax, believes this highlights a continued lack of consumer underststanding about how easy it is for fraudsters to get hold of the information they need. “Despite many organisations repeatedly warning consumers about the importance of being careful with how they use and share their personal data, it seems that some still make it pretty easy for the fraudsters”, said Lisa Hardstaff, Equifax credit information expert.

“The new data from CIFAS reported that over 80% of all identity fraud in the first three months of this year was attempted or perpetrated online, and our own research conducted last year** highlighted how the internet is providing the perfect hunting ground for the fraudsters. Over 70% of people responding to our research said they answer surveys or enter competitions in the street or online that require personal information such as date of birth; just under a quarter said they display both their date and place of birth on social media sites. And over a third (35%) said they couldn’t remember the last time they updated their privacy settings on social media. All of these actions leave a huge opportunity for savvy fraudsters.

“Despite sustained campaigns by government, consumer bodies and other organisations, it appears that some consumers continue to be reckless with their personal information, perhaps not realising just how little fraudsters need to take control of their accounts, or to apply for credit and make purchases using their details. Just a few personal details could give fraudsters the keys to an individual’s identity, without their knowledge.”

Equifax is reminding consumers about the importance of understanding the value of their personal information and urging them to take precautions against ID fraud. One way for them to keep on track is to regularly monitor their credit report for any changes to accounts and to help protect their personal information. 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 a subscription to their Equifax Credit Report or Credit Score.

“We always urge consumers to treat their personal data as carefully as they would cash. Fraudsters need only a few pieces of information to begin fraudulent activity, so it’s crucial to be vigilant – and that includes keeping an eye on credit information for any changes or unauthorised account openings.”

Top tips from Equifax also help to keep consumers’ data safe from criminals.

Equifax’s top tips to avoid ID theft

  • 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
  • Don’t put dates and place of birth on social media sites
  • 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 statements, utility bills…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 a fraudster may have access to all your social media 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

The Equifax Credit Report is accessible for 30 days free simply by logging onto www.equifax.co.uk/Products/credit/credit-report.html. 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. It also includes an online dispute facility to help them correct any errors on their credit file simply and quickly.

ENDS

*CIFAS quarterly ID fraud report, published 27th May 2015
https://www.cifas.org.uk/id_fraud_first_quarter

**Equifax ID Fraud Survey – September 2014 – 2014 respondents

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: equifaxbtocteam@harrisonsadler.com

About Equifax

Equifax is a global leader in consumer, commercial and workforce information solutions that provide businesses of all sizes and consumers with insight and information they can trust. Equifax organizes and assimilates data on more than 600 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide.  The company’s significant investments in differentiated data, its expertise in advanced analytics to explore and develop new multi-source data solutions, and its leading-edge proprietary technology enable it to create and deliver unparalleled customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax operates or has investments in 19 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. In 2013, Equifax was named a Bloomberg BusinessWeek Top 50 company, was #3 in Fortune's Most Admired list in its category, and was named to InfoWeek 500 as well as the FinTech 100. For more information, please visit www.equifax.com.

Equifax Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Related links