Londoners bear brunt of ID theft

Affluent Londoners have borne the brunt of ID thefts over the last twelve months according to research to coincide with National Identity Fraud Prevention Week (16th - 22nd October) from credit reference agency Callcredit.

Its research analysed the incidence of ID theft in the 121 main postal areas in the UK over the course of the last year (1). In addition it looked at the characteristics shared by those people who live in areas where the risk of ID theft is highest (2).

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 shows ID theft victims are most likely to be affluent and live in cities or surrounding suburbs. It also reveals the incidence of ID theft in London is double that of any other region in the country, although other regions also have localised hotspots.

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."

Regional overview

London was the area worst affected by ID theft with more than 20,000 victims recorded among the 5.5m over 18 population between May 05 and May 06 - equivalent to 3.7 cases per 1000 population.

At 397, Northern Ireland had the least number of cases of ID theft recorded over the same period.

ID theft Hotspots

Postcode analysis reveals the postal area where ID theft has been most prevalent over the last twelve months is North London, this is followed by South East London and East London.

Regional hotspots include St Albans in the East, Manchester in the North West, Birmingham in the West Midlands and Huddersfield in Yorkshire and the Humber.

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
Editors notes
  1. The research relates to actual victims of ID theft between May 2005-2006 provided by CIFAS, the UK's Fraud Prevention Service, analysed per 1000 population. Under 18s and anyone living in communal establishments such as prisons were deducted from the postal area headcounts. The findings were broken down by the 121 main postal areas in the UK.
  2. It analysed the geodemographic distribution of ID thefts using CAMEO, a consumer geodemographic classification system developed by sister company EuroDirect.