ID theft yet to become widespread in the South West, says new research

The South West is one of the safest places to live in England when it comes to identity theft, according to research conducted by credit reference agency Callcredit.

The research, carried out in support of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week (16th - 22nd October) revealed that there were 0.7 thefts per 1000 adults in the South West, compared to 1.3 thefts per 1000 across the UK as a whole.

Bristol, Bournemouth, Swindon and Salisbury all topped the table for the South West with 0.8 thefts per 1000 adults. At the other end of the scale was Truro with the equivalent figure of 0.4, ranking it amongst the lowest 10 per cent in the UK.

Callcredit director Mel Mitchley says:

"These findings are reassuring for the South West. However we would urge people not to be complacent - ID theft is one of the fastest growing types of fraud in the UK.

Our research revealed that the average incidence of ID theft in London was 3.7 per 1000 adult population, more than twice as high as any other region in the UK. Excluding the capital the UK average is one theft per 1000 adults.

All the postal areas in the South West record rates at least 20 per cent below this figure. Indeed major regional centres such as Plymouth, with 0.5 thefts per 1000 adults, report levels only marginally higher than the Hebrides, which has an equivalent figure of 0.4.

The National Identity Fraud Prevention Week is designed to stimulate debate about the growing threat of ID theft and provide individuals with the tools they need to make sure they are safe. Only with a combined effort between the police, lenders and individuals will we be able to beat the criminals."

Victim Profile

Analysis of the areas with the highest incidence of ID theft confirms fraudsters are most likely to target people living in relatively affluent neighbourhoods who typically have a higher than average number of financial products including credit facilities.

These areas are ideal territory for ID thieves as the residents are able to access credit easily - with very few details an ID thief can also access or apply for facilities fraudulently.

What is ID theft

ID theft is an all-encompassing term for different types of fraud committed in another person's name. Typical examples include using stolen personal details to apply for credit cards, obtain mobile phone contracts or goods on credit. 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
  • Keep your personal and confidential documents secure
  • Always shred, using a confetti cut shredder, before disposing of documentation - bank and credit card statements, utility bills, receipts, direct mail containing personal information, mortgage applications etc
  • 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.
  • When you move home, redirect your mail to your new address by contacting Royal Mail Redirection Service on 0845 7740 740, visiting your local post office or www.royalmail.com
  • Never give out any personal information to unidentified individuals or organisations who contact you by phone, email or face-to-face
  • If you have been a victim of identity fraud contact your nearest police station
  • If you think you have been a victim of identity fraud you should consider subscribing to the CIFAS Protective Registration service. A notice will be placed on your credit file indicating that documents have been stolen and that you may therefore be at risk of identity fraud. To register by telephone call 0870 010 2091
  • If you have information about identity fraud, contact the police or call Crimestoppers to give information anonymously on 0800 555 111