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This article was written by Emma Wall of the telegraph.co.uk and was published on 11 Oct 2009.
Identity fraud has increased by more than a third in 2009 in comparison with the same period last year, according to fraud prevention service CIFAS.
In the first nine months of this year there have been 59,000 recorded victims of impersonation, nearly equalling last year’s total of 62,658. This means the UK the highest numbers of identity fraud in Europe.
Account takeovers, where a third party hacks into an existing account rather than creating a new one, have more than tripled in the last two years.
More than half of account takeover victims had their credit cards targeted, and both online purchasing and customer carelessness are being blamed for the increase.
In the first nine months of this year there have been 59,000 recorded victims of impersonation, nearly equalling the total for the whole of last year of 62,658.
This means that identity theft has increased by more than a third in 2009 in comparison with the same period last year, according to fraud prevention service CIFAS.
The report by CIFAS also reveals that companies responsible for handling sensitive customer data do not always take due care, with a third of employees questioned admitting to throwing risky information in the bin rather than shredding it.
The report also revealed the ID crime hot spots across London and the rest of the UK. The area with the most victims in the capital is Barnet, with south east London- totalling 2,680 so far this year- also having high numbers of reports.
High numbers were reported in Birmingham with 2,111 cases. Barnet also has the highest number of account takeovers, equal to Wandsworth, Lambeth and Croydon. Nationwide, Wales has the least number of reported ID fraud cases and south-east England has the highest number.
CIFAS Chief Executive Peter Hurst said: “Fraud is an insidious crime. Not only does it affect consumers and businesses financially, but its impact in terms of reputation, trust and time are unquantifiable.
“Not only is fraud prevention a shared responsibility but it must also become a shared duty across both private and public sectors.”
CIFAS advise consumers to protect themselves against ID theft by being familiar with their postal bill dates, keeping passwords secure and checking websites begin with https before entering sensitive information.
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