Identify theft crime affects 87,000 - survey


Research published today estimates that 87,000 people in Ireland have already been victims of identity fraud but found most people are unaware of preventative steps to take.

The research, published to mark the start of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, found that although nine out of 10 people believe they are at risk from identity fraud, less than half know what they should be doing to protect their identities.

Identity theft occurs when an individual’s or company’s confidential information is obtained by another person to assume their identity. This can be done through intercepting mail, "phishing" e-mail accounts, or going through rubbish bins.

The study, commissioned by Fellowes Ireland, also found that 52 per cent do not check financial statements and bills against receipts; two-thirds of respondents throw away bank statements, utility bills and even passwords and pin numbers without shredding them first; and 33 per cent do not report the loss of passport immediately.

Nine out of 10 Irish people said they were not completely confident that the organisations they dealt with treated their personal information in such a way that it would not accidentally fall into the hands of identity fraudsters

A total of 93 per cent of employees in the sample admitted that the identities of employees and/or customers of their company could be at risk of being acquired by ID fraudsters.

Across the five countries surveyed - Ireland, the UK, Netherlands, France and Belgium - just 20 per cent of respondents felt they were well informed about all areas relating to identify theft.

Ciaran Dunne, Fellowes Ireland spokesman said: "People need to be more vigilant and follow the simple steps needed to help safeguard their identities.

"For example, they need to check their mail for unusual transactions, report missing post immediately, never give out information to people unless absolutely sure and importantly, they need to shred anything you wouldn’t want in the hands of a stranger.”

National Identity Fraud Prevention Week runs from October 6th to 12th. A website - www.stop-idfraud.iehas been set up, and people can call the freephone number 00800 18101810 to receive a free copy of A Guide to Protecting Your Identity.