Survey: '4 million' Brits stung by ID theft

Average cost to victims reaches £1,190


Consumers continue to be complacent about identity theft despite growth of the crime, which has claimed four million victims in the UK alone.

The warning from the Metropolitan Police Service comes at the start of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, which begins today. The seventh edition of the annual event aims to educate people and businesses about the scope of identity theft and its prevention.

According to research commissioned by paper-shredding kit supplier Fellowes, 7 per cent of the UK population (4 million people) have been victims of identity fraud at one time or another. According to the UK’s fraud prevention service CIFAS, 80,000 have been targeted this year. The average cost of an identity theft is £1,190, but some individuals have been stung to the tune of £9,000.

Operation Sterling – the Met's anti-fraud squad – is targeting students in particular in this year's round of awareness training, visiting university fresher weeks and running a conference in London on Wednesday for professionals working with students. The conference will discuss credit card crime and online fraud, among other topics.

The Met has drawn together a list of top tips for preventing identity fraud.

  • Check for unfamiliar transactions on bank statements.
  • Shred all documents containing sensitive information using a cross cut shredder before throwing them away – something Tory policy chief Oliver Letwin should bear in mind.
  • Investigate mail that goes missing.
  • Carry out regular personal credit report checks<./li>
  • Redirect post for at least six months when moving house.
  • Limit the amount of personal information shared when using social networking sites.

Jamey Johnson, head of Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting and advice centre, said: "Stealing an identity is just the beginning for a fraudster. With few details, accounts can be taken over, loans can be applied for and purchases can be made, all without the consent or knowledge of the individual, potentially costing the victim substantial sums of money. Last month alone (September) Action Fraud saw over £245,000 worth of loss due to identity theft. The worrying part is that this figure was generated from a limited amount of reports, suggesting the amount lost to ID theft would be much higher if more people were reporting."

Johnson added: "It is important to report a loss to Action Fraud, but it is more important to protect yourself from it happening in the first place. Limiting access to your personal information is the key to safety from ID fraud," she added.

More tips and advice on how to prevent identity fraud can be found on the campaign's website, www.stop-idfraud.co.uk, which contains advice aimed at consumers as well as a business guide. This week's National Identity Fraud Prevention Week campaign is sponsored by the Met Police, City of London Police, the National Fraud Authority, Equifax, CIFAS (the UK's Fraud Prevention Service), e-Crime Scotland, the Home Office and the Royal Mail, among others. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • World Economic Forum wants a global map of online crime
    Will cyber crimes shrug off Atlas Initiative? Objectively, yes

    RSA Conference An ambitious project spearheaded by the World Economic Forum (WEF) is working to develop a map of the cybercrime ecosystem using open source information.

    The Atlas initiative, whose contributors include Fortinet and Microsoft and other private-sector firms, involves mapping the relationships between criminal groups and their infrastructure with the end goal of helping both industry and the public sector — law enforcement and government agencies — disrupt these nefarious ecosystems.  

    This kind of visibility into the connections between the gang members can help security researchers identify vulnerabilities in the criminals' supply chain to develop better mitigation strategies and security controls for their customers. 

    Continue reading
  • Europol arrests nine suspected of stealing 'several million' euros via phishing
    Victims lured into handing over online banking logins, police say

    Europol cops have arrested nine suspected members of a cybercrime ring involved in phishing, internet scams, and money laundering.

    The alleged crooks are believed to have stolen "several million euros" from at least "dozens of Belgian victims," according to that nation's police, which, along with the Dutch, supported the cross-border operation.

    On Tuesday, after searching 24 houses in the Netherlands, officers cuffed eight men between the ages of 25 and 36 from Amsterdam, Almere, Rotterdam, and Spijkenisse, and a 25-year-old woman from Deventer. We're told the cops seized, among other things, a firearm, designer clothing, expensive watches, and tens of thousands of euros.

    Continue reading
  • Google: How we tackled this iPhone, Android spyware
    Watching people's every move and collecting their info – not on our watch, says web ads giant

    Spyware developed by Italian firm RCS Labs was used to target cellphones in Italy and Kazakhstan — in some cases with an assist from the victims' cellular network providers, according to Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG).

    RCS Labs customers include law-enforcement agencies worldwide, according to the vendor's website. It's one of more than 30 outfits Google researchers are tracking that sell exploits or surveillance capabilities to government-backed groups. And we're told this particular spyware runs on both iOS and Android phones.

    We understand this particular campaign of espionage involving RCS's spyware was documented last week by Lookout, which dubbed the toolkit "Hermit." We're told it is potentially capable of spying on the victims' chat apps, camera and microphone, contacts book and calendars, browser, and clipboard, and beam that info back to base. It's said that Italian authorities have used this tool in tackling corruption cases, and the Kazakh government has had its hands on it, too.

    Continue reading
  • Interpol anti-fraud operation busts call centers behind business email scams
    1,770 premises raided, 2,000 arrested, $50m seized

    Law enforcement agencies around the world have arrested about 2,000 people and seized $50 million in a sweeping operation crackdown of social engineering and other scam operations around the globe.

    In the latest action in the ongoing "First Light", an operation Interpol has coordinated annually since 2014, law enforcement officials from 76 countries raided 1,770 call centers suspected of running fraudulent operations such as telephone and romance scams, email deception scams, and financial crimes.

    Among the 2,000 people arrested in Operation First Light 2022 were call center operators and fraudsters, and money launderers. Interpol stated that the operation also saw 4,000 bank accounts frozen and 3,000 suspects identified.

    Continue reading
  • Cloud services proving handy for cybercriminals, SANS Institute warns
    Flying horses, gonna pwn me away...

    RSA Conference Living off the land is so 2021. These days, cybercriminals are living off the cloud, according to Katie Nickels, director of intelligence for Red Canary and a SANS Certified Instructor.

    "It's not enough to pay attention to the operating systems, the endpoints, said Nickels, speaking on a SANS Institute panel about the most dangerous new attack techniques at RSA Conference. "Adversaries, a lot of their intrusions, are using cloud services of different types."  

    And yes, living off the land (or the cloud), in which intruders use legitimate software and cloud services to deploy malware or spy on corporations and other nefarious activities, isn't a new type of attack, Nickels admitted. "But what's new here is the levels to which using cloud services [for cyberattacks] has risen." 

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft seizes 41 domains tied to 'Iranian phishing ring'
    Windows giant gets court order to take over dot-coms and more

    Microsoft has obtained a court order to seize 41 domains used by what the Windows giant said was an Iranian cybercrime group that ran a spear-phishing operation targeting organizations in the US, Middle East, and India. 

    The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit said the gang, dubbed Bohrium, took a particular interest in those working in technology, transportation, government, and education sectors: its members would pretend to be job recruiters to lure marks into running malware on their PCs.

    "Bohrium actors create fake social media profiles, often posing as recruiters," said Amy Hogan-Burney, GM of Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit. "Once personal information was obtained from the victims, Bohrium sent malicious emails with links that ultimately infected their target's computers with malware."

    Continue reading
  • Cops' Killer Bee stings credential-stealing scammer
    Fraudster and two alleged accomplices nabbed in joint op

    An Interpol-led operation code-named Killer Bee has led to the arrest and conviction of a Nigerian man who was said to have used a remote access trojan (RAT) to reroute financial transactions and steal corporate credentials. Two suspected accomplices were also nabbed.

    The trio, aged between 31 and 38, were detained as part of a sting operation involving law enforcement agencies across 11 countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

    The suspects were arrested in the Lagos suburb of Ajegunle and in Benin City, Nigeria. At the time of their arrests, all three men were in possession of fake documents, including fraudulent invoices and forged official letters, it is claimed.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022