Brits at risk of ID theft as laid-back attitudes leave us 'logged in'
UK consumers are the most likely in Europe to become victims of ID fraud and new research from ID fraud expert Equifax has revealed one of the key ways that Brits are putting themselves at risk. A third of respondents to Equifax research conducted at the end of September 2012, said that they stay ‘logged in’ to smartphone apps and almost half fail to clear their browser history (42%). Both activities could make personal information, including bank details, easy to access if these devices are lost or stolen.
As part of National Identity Fraud Prevention month which started on Monday 1st October, Equifax is campaigning to reduce the risk of fraud to consumers, urging a change in attitudes to protect personal information.
“Our research shows that people in the UK are making it far too easy for ID fraudsters, with many failing to log out of internet banking and 1 in 5 storing passwords, PINs or bank account or credit card details on their smartphones,” says Neil Munroe, External Affairs Director for Equifax and Chair of the Identity Fraud Communications Awareness Group (IFCAG). “A third of people we surveyed said they don’t log out of social media or internet banking websites on their mobile (32%). With over a quarter of people doing online banking through a mobile device, it’s shocking to discover that 45% don’t password protect their smartphone, leaving all that information available to anyone who can get their hands on it.”
Munroe adds, “More and more people are using smartphones for all aspects of their life and enjoy the convenience of shopping and banking on the go. But it seems that many users simply don’t realise just how much data they are holding – and how at risk their identity could be. There seems to be a real culture of ‘it couldn’t happen to me’. That’s why we’re keen to support this month’s ‘Don’t let it be you’ campaign.
“A stolen phone can provide all the passwords, email addresses, telephone numbers and personal information criminals need to open new accounts and wrack up huge debts in the victim’s name. Yet people are failing to clear their browser history and many don’t even log out of social network and online banking sites, leaving them wide open to fraudsters.
“We are urging consumers to protect their personal information, starting with their smartphone. A passcode on a mobile device is the first line of defence, but 45% of people are currently failing to even do that. Consumers need to think about the value of their personal information. Don’t make it easy for fraudsters, log out and take steps to protect themselves.”
An added level of protection for consumers is regular monitoring of their credit information – particularly as the European research* commissioned by Fellowes highlighted that, on average, it takes 7 months for UK consumers to learn that they have been victims of ID theft.
The Equifax Credit Report is accessible for 30 days free simply by logging onto www.equifax.co.uk. If customers do not cancel before the end of the 30 Day Free Trial, the service will continue at £8.99 per month, giving them unlimited online access to their credit information and weekly alerts on any changes to their credit file. It also includes an online dispute facility to help them correct any errors on their credit file simply and quickly.
The Equifax app is available free from the Apple iTunes Store on iPhone and iPad and from Google Play for Androids.
Read more at www.equifax.co.uk