ID theft campaigns not getting the message across

Britons remain worryingly unaware of how to protect themselves from ID thieves despite high-profile campaigning by Government and financial institutions according to the latest research from credit report service MyCallcredit.

Its research reveals more than 35 million (1) Britons are concerned about having their identity stolen but less than 8 million are confident they know how to combat ID theft - figures which haven't changed significantly in the last six months.

MyCallcredit director Kevin Green says:

"ID theft is one of the fastest growing types of fraud in the UK and there are many different ways people can become a victim. Its incidence in the population is still small at less than 0.1 per cent, but it's something people can protect against very easily by taking a few sensible precautions.

Our research reinforces the need for ID theft awareness campaigns, like the one currently being run by the Home Office. Only when people understand what they can do to protect themselves can we start to claw back some of the £1.3bn a year ID fraud costs the UK economy"

Key Findings
  • The number of people who are concerned about having their ID stolen has remained constant since July last year at just over 70 per cent of the population.
  • The number of people who know exactly how to protect themselves dropped from 18.4 per cent in July 05 to 16.9 per cent in October and 16.1 per cent in January 06.
  • The number of people who identified, when prompted, that shredding personal documents would protect against ID thieves increased from 78.1 per cent in July 05 to 83.8 per cent this January.
  • Only 58.9 per cent of people said cancelling unused credit facilities would help to combat ID thieves in July 05 compared to 64.7 per cent of respondents to the latest survey.
  • More than four in ten Britons consistently believe they will know if they've been a victim of ID theft within a matter of days. In reality it can take many months before this type of fraud comes to light.
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 simple guidelines people can protect themselves from all types of impersonation fraud and minimise the hassle and losses incurred if they are unlucky enough to fall prey to fraudsters.
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 to see what information is held about you.
  • Be vigilant and check your financial statements.
Editors notes
  1. Research by MyCallcredit, which compared the number of recorded incidences of ID theft by postcode as a percentage of the population based on Census figures, provided the city and town analysis.
  2. The attitudes to ID theft research was carried out for MyCallcredit by NEMS market research among 1050 adults between 3 and 8 January 2006.