Southerners underestimate risk of ID theft

Four out of five (80.1 per cent) Southerners are concerned about identity theft, according to research from online credit report service MyCallcredit.

But less than two in five (37.2 per cent) correctly identified that their likelihood of becoming a victim is one in 1000 - the remainder dramatically underestimated their risk, with one in five (21.3 per cent) thinking it was as little as one in 15000.

Also, Southerners are the worst in Britain at knowing how to protect themselves from ID thieves. Four out of ten (40.8 per cent) admitted they didn't know what steps to take. Yet seven out of ten (72.2 per cent) accepted that they shoulder the main responsibility for protecting their identities, rather than the police or lenders.

Callcredit director Mel Mitchley says:

"ID theft is a growing problem. We must continue to work hard to educate people about the risks and how to protect themselves.

It's also really important that people know the pointers to look for that would suggest their ID had been stolen."

Key Findings
  • 80.1 per cent of Southerners are concerned about ID theft.
  • 59.2 per cent say they know how to protect themselves from ID theft - national average is 70.1 per cent.
  • 8.8 per cent of Southerners say the police bear the main responsibility for protecting Britons from ID theft - national average 7.5 per cent.
  • 19.1 per cent say it is the responsibility of lenders - national average 16.9 per cent
  • 72.2 per cent say they themselves shoulder the main responsibility - national average 73.9 per cent
  • 37.2 per cent of Southerners correctly identified that their chance of becoming a victim of ID theft was one in 1000.
  • 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 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.