National Identity Fraud Prevention Week Launches: Research Reveals Shocking Statistics for Businesses and Individuals

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National Identity Fraud Prevention Week launches; partners publish unique advice guide for UK businesses at risk of financial loss and reputational damages

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nearly 60,000 UK residents have fallen victim to ID fraud so far this year - a 36% increase when compared with the first nine months of 2008!

National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, the major annual awareness drive, begins today - and this year, campaign partners from across the public-private sector divide have come together to warn Britain's businesses of the risk identity fraud poses to them, their employees, their customers and their suppliers.

Two sets of independent research commissioned by Fellowes and the National Fraud Authority exclusively for National Identity Fraud Prevention Week (NIDFPW) show that one third of small and medium-sized businesses have been impacted by fraud - and that British consumers are experiencing a corresponding crisis in confidence, with only 3% feeling completely confident the organisations they deal with handle their personal data responsibly. The NIDFPW partners have therefore come together to publish a 28-page guide for businesses to launch a dedicated online resource centre, outlining the risks and offering tips on how to keep corporate data safe, and advice on how to overcome a breach should one occur. This invaluable resource will be available free of charge from today from the campaign's website, or by calling 00800 1810 1810*.

The NIDFPW partners work throughout the year to understand identity fraud trends and their impact upon our society and economy. The past twelve months' efforts have highlighted not only lack of understanding of the risks identity fraudsters pose amongst the business community - but also the shocking non-existence of relevant and resourceful information for those businesses trying to practise vigilance.

Independent research commissioned by Fellowes for this year's campaign shows that:

  •     Shockingly, only 64% of businesses have put in place a clear policy on how to handle documents with sensitive information - which no doubt goes some way to explaining why nearly one-third (32%) of employees admit to always throwing sensitive documents directly into the bin!
  •     The 97% of employees are therefore justified in their beliefs that their company does not completely protects customers' identities; furthermore, 64% of employees believe that bins are a bigger risk to customer details than computer systems or document theft
  •     Overall, 71% of UK employees think their companies should do more to ensure confidential documents are handled responsibly - and the UK is not alone. 66% of German, 70% of Belgian, 61% of Dutch and 85% of Irish employees agree that more should be done.

According to the NFA, when it comes to looking at the impact of fraud, 62% of businesses fear consequential financial loss, while 43% worry about the effect fraud could have on their reputation.

Government figures show that this fear of financial loss is a legitimate concern: identity fraud costs the UK economy over £1.2 billion annually - but a breach can have even more lasting consequences to a business' reputation, which companies can ill afford in hyper-competitive recession conditions. Clearly, businesses have a significant role to play in helping to protect themselves, their employees and their customers from identity fraud.

Identity fraud is not an issue that only affects people at work. The latest figures from CIFAS, the UK's Fraud Prevention Service, show that "nearly 60,000 UK residents have fallen victim to ID fraud so far this year - a 36% increase when compared with the first nine months of 2008!" The figures speak for themselves -the threat of identity fraud is real and current - yet people continue to ignore the advice that could keep their identity, their finances and their reputation safe:

  •     44% of Britons STILL DON'T shred documents containing sensitive information before placing them in the bin
  •     Only 54% of us routinely check our financial statements - and just 45% of us follow-up missing post
  •     69% report lost or stolen documents - a comparatively good statistic, it could be argued. But it's not good enough

National Identity Fraud Prevention Week aims to encourage businesses and consumers to take action now, ensuring that ID fraud prevention is practiced with vigilance at home at and in the work place. Until this is done, instances of identity fraud are set to continue to increase, leaving more victims in its path.

This year's campaign is supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers, Metropolitan Police, Fellowes, the National Fraud Authority, the Federation of Small Businesses, Equifax, CIFAS - The UK's Fraud Prevention Service, Callcredit, Experian, the Home Office's Identity and Passport Service, the British Chambers of Commerce, the British Retail Consortium and the Royal Mail.

For up-to-date information about identity fraud, follow us on Twitter @Stop_IDfraudUK or become a fan of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week on Facebook.


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Andrea Sommer
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