Britons are failing to take basic steps to protect themselves from online crime - despite identity fraud now being at record levels.
With this in mind, Action Fraud - the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime - has launched an awareness campaign targeting ID, with the hashtag #AreYouOneofThem.
It follows a YouGov Survey which showed that people in the UK are aware that they need to improve their online safety but still aren’t doing so.
Identity fraud is estimated to cost the UK £5.4 billion per year, as 172,919 people reported identity fraud to Cifas in 2016 with the reporting figures steadily rising since 2008.
The survey found:
- 55% of people surveyed access public Wi-Fi that is not password protected.
- 40% of people do not have antivirus software installed on their devices.
- 27% of people use the same password for multiple accounts.
- 32% admit that they are at risk to identity fraud because of their behaviour.
- 31% of people think the over 60s are the most at risk to fraud.
City of London Police, Commander Dave Clark, National Police Coordinator for Economic Crime said: “The recent survey results have highlighted that we need to do more to protect ourselves from fraudsters. There is a common misconception that only old people fall victim to fraud but reports show that every age and demographic is affected.
“There is no doubt that identity fraud is a growing problem and this is why we have launched our #AreYouOneofThem campaign. We want to draw people’s attention to identity fraud and to highlight the risks they face when sharing details online.”
Action Fraud have offered the following advice to protect yourself against online fraud:
- Set your privacy settings across all the social media channels you use. And just think twice before you share details – in particular your full date of birth, your address, contacts details – all this information can be useful to fraudsters!
- Password protect your devices. Keep your passwords complex by picking three random words, such as roverducklemon and add or split them with symbols, numbers and capitals:R0v3rDuckLemon!.
- Install anti-virus software on your laptop and any other personal devices and then keep it up to date. MoneySavingExpert have a recommended list of the best free anti-virus software: www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/free-anti-virus-software
- Take care on public wi-fi – fraudsters hack them or mimic them. If you’re using one, avoid accessing sensitive apps such as mobile banking.
- Download updates to your software when your device prompts you – they often add enhanced security features.
What to do if you’re a victim:
- ACT FAST if you think you have been a victim of identity fraud.
- If you receive any mail that seems suspicious or implies you have an account with the sender when you don’t, do not ignore it.
- Get a copy of your credit report as it is one of the first places you can spot if someone is misusing your personal information – before you suffer financial loss. Review every entry on your credit report and if you see an account or even a credit search from a company that you do not recognise, notify the credit reference agency. They all offer a free service to victims of fraud.
- If you have information about those committing identity crime tell independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously online or call on 0800 555 111.
If you have been a victim of fraud, you can contact Victim Support for free (http://www.victimsupport.org.uk), confidential advice and support. Victim Support is the independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales.