Identity thefts high in East England, says new research

People in the East of England are more likely to have their identities stolen than people in any region in the UK outside of London, 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 1.6 thefts per 1000 adults in East England, around two thirds higher than the average for outside London.

St Albans is the region's ID fraud hotspot (ranked 15 in the UK) and two other postal areas are within the UK top 20:, Luton (17) and Southend-on-sea (18).

Callcredit director Mel Mitchley says:

ID theft is one of the fastest growing types of fraud in the UK. But it is also one of the most preventable if people take a few simple precautions.

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. Across the UK the average is 1.3 but excluding the capital the average drops to one theft per 1000 adults.

Despite the relatively high rate of ID theft in East England, some postal areas in the region are well below the UK average. Norwich and Ipswich have the lowest rate in the region with 0.7 thefts per 1000 adult population.

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 or visit www.met.police.uk/fraudalert/
  • 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