This week is National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, according to what I just read in The Register.
Pretty good timing, following last week’s privacy scandal where MP Oliver Letwin casually dropped constituents’ letters and sensitive documents into London park bins.
The overall advice and resources on the educational microsite are good, particularly for individuals and smaller businesses.
The only niglette for me is the “use a shredder” mantra, which – when you realise the author of the research, and I suspect the instigator of the entire concept of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, is shredder company Fellowes – is about as subtle as the Stay Puft marshmallow man in GhostBusters.
The press release reports that 7% of UK residents, or 4 million of us, have been victims of identity fraud, with the average cost of this being just above £1000.
Aside from taking care not to dump sensitive info into a bin, people also need to be careful about online activities and not to be afraid to say “no” if someone asks for personal information without a legitimate reason.
How many of you have been asked for your home address or postcode when buying something as random as a pair of shoes, DVD or a book? I always respond with, “Why do you need that?” and recommend you do the same as the responses can be rather amusing.
What is great news is that the general public is much more aware about the dangers of identity fraud than they were a few years ago. Fellowes’ research says that 95% of people are now identity-fraud aware.
Check out this cute little video that Sophos created a few years ago in sunny Bristol to show how easy it is to get personal information from complete strangers.
(Enjoy this video? Check out more on the SophosLabs YouTube channel and subscribe if you like.)
And if you are worried about identity theft, the free resources on stop-idfraud.co.uk are worth a look.