Easterners underestimate ID theft threat

People living in Eastern England are less concerned about ID theft than people in any other region of Britain according to research from online credit report service MyCallcredit.

When asked, threequarters of Easterners (75.4 per cent) said they know how to protect themselves from ID thieves and one in three (35.9 per cent) said they are not concerned about the problem (compared to a national average of 23.2 per cent).

The research also confirms that they are underestimating the one in 1000 risk of becoming a victim. More than half the people (50.9%) thought the risk was at least one in 10,000.

At the same time 85.5 per cent of Easterners said it was their own responsibility to protect themselves from ID thieves - the highest in the country. Just under ten per cent said the main responsibility fell to lenders while only 4.6 per cent - the lowest across the country - said the police bore the brunt of responsibility for protecting them from ID theft.

Callcredit director Mel Mitchley says:

"It's quite right that people should take the main responsibility for protecting themselves from ID thieves but lenders and the police are also working hard to make life harder for these criminals.

It's only with a concerted effort from all parties that we'll be able to combat this growing fraud. We just need to make sure that messages about the risks, how to protect yourself and what indicators there are that your ID has been stolen continues to get through to people."

Key Findings
  • 58.9 per cent of Easterners are concerned about ID theft compared to 74 per cent nationwide.
  • 75.4 per cent of people who live in Eastern England say they know how to protect themselves from ID theft against an average of 70.1 per cent.
  • 4.6 per cent of Easterners say the police bear the main responsibility for protecting them from ID theft compared to 7.5 per cent nationally.
  • 9.9 per cent of Easterners say it is the responsibility of lenders against a national average of 16.9 per cent and 85.5 per cent say it is down to the individual.
  • 32.6 per cent of people in Eastern England correctly identified that their chance of becoming a victim of ID theft was one in 1000, slightly above the national average 31.6 per cent.
  • 50.9 per cent thought the risk was one in 10000 or less.
  • Men are more likely than women to think lenders bear the main responsibility for protecting us against ID theft, 23.3 per cent against 14.2 per cent.
  • Women are more likely to rely on themselves for protection against ID theft than men, 77.4 per cent against 70.3 per cent.
  • Young people aged between 16 to 24 are more aware of the risk of ID theft than any other age group with 42 per cent correctly identifying that the risk of having their ID stolen is in one in 1000.
  • Pensioners over the age of 65 are the most likely to underestimate their risk of falling victim to ID theft with 26.2 per cent saying the chances are one in 15000.
  • Pensioners are also most likely to say they are not concerned about having their ID stolen, 35 per cent against a national average of 23.2 per cent.
What is ID theft

ID theft is an all-encompassing term for different types of fraud committed in another person's name.

The most common type of fraud involves someone stealing your card details and using them to make purchases or withdraw cash.

But it can also be when someone takes over your identity completely and applies for loans, mortgages, passports or a driving license in your name.

By following our guidelines people can protect themselves from all types of impersonation fraud and minimise the time and hassle involved in restoring their credit file to its correct state.

How to protect yourself from ID thieves
  • Shred personal documents before disposing of them.
  • Cancel unused credit facilities.
  • Don't give personal information to anyone, however legitimate they may seem, without first confirming who they are and why they want the information.
  • Check your credit file regularly and sign up to a service which alerts you to any changes on your credit file - often the first indication you will have that a fraudster has got hold of your ID.
Editors notes
  1. The research was carried out among 1003 people for MyCallcredit by NEMS Market Research between 3 and 9 August 2006.