Two out of three underestimate the risk of ID theft
Two out of three Britons drastically underestimate the likelihood of becoming a victim of ID thieves even though the vast majority say they are more aware of ID theft, and the impact it can have on their finances, than they were a year ago.
Research carried out for credit report service MyCallcredit also revealed more than eight out of ten Britons say they do take steps to protect themselves from the consequences of ID theft.
But of those who don't protect themselves half say it's because they can't be bothered or they think it won't happen to them.
MyCallcredit director Alison Nicholson says:
"It's encouraging that people's awareness of ID theft and how they can protect themselves is growing, but it's still a big problem to the people it happens to and that's one in every 1000 of us at the moment.
And while most people know that they won't be liable for any spending by an ID fraudster they completely underestimate the impact it will have on their lives while they correct the trail left by the criminals on their credit file.
Even simple things like being granted a mobile phone contract can be made impossible if a fraudster has had an impact on your credit file. Your life really does get put on hold until the damage has been investigated and put right and that can take many months."
- The incidence of ID theft in the UK is one in 1000, which only one in three (36.7 per cent) people correctly identified when prompted.
- One in four people in the UK (23 per cent) believe the risk of becoming a victim of ID theft is 15 times less than the reality, or one in 15000.
- 16 - 24 year are the most clued up about the risk of ID theft with more than two in five (41.3 per cent) identifying that the risk was 1 in 1000.
- People aged 65 and over are the most likely to underestimate the risk of ID theft with one in three (34.6 per cent) saying the risk was one in 15000.
- Two out of three people in the UK (65.7 per cent) say they are more aware of the risks of ID theft than they were a year ago.
- The awareness of ID theft has increased the least in the 25 - 34 age group with 55.4 per cent saying they are more aware now than they were a year ago.
- The vast majority of people (85.9 per cent) say they do take measures to protect themselves from ID thieves, like shredding documents, checking their credit file and cancelling unused credit facilities.
- Despite being the age group most likely to correctly identify the risk of ID theft 16 - 24 year olds are the least likely to protect themselves 63.1 per cent against 85.9 per cent across all age groups.
- Of the fifteen people in every hundred who don't protect themselves from ID thieves three say they know they should but can't be bothered and four think it won't happen to them.
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.
- The research was carried out for MyCallcredit by NEMS market research among 1040 adults between 31 March and 5 April 2006.