Victims of Fraud Survey
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Victims of Fraud Survey - March 2010
Pete Turner, Managing Director, Experian Interactive
Identity fraud is often described as a crime that knows no boundaries - one that can be completely devastating for victims. Considered a ‘silent crime’, because it can take so long to discover, when a fraudster strikes, the victim can be left penniless and, without help, faces an uphill struggle to restore their good name.
The only certainty with fraud is that it is never going away. It is an evolving crime committed by both the opportunist thief and by more sinister, organised criminal gangs.
One of the problems is that danger lurks in the most innocuous of places. Social networking sites, careless friends, unsolicited e-mails, uncollected post and even disgruntled employees can all be valuable sources of information for unscrupulous individuals.
The message to consumers is that they must remain vigilant and take every precaution possible. Regular credit report monitoring – so individuals can reassure themselves that no one has gained unauthorised access to their personal information and is abusing it to commit crime – offers the best level of protection.
One of the biggest difficulties facing consumers is the length of time it can take to discover identity fraud has taken place. In 2009, it took an average of 416 days for fraud victims to realise they had been attacked. This gave fraudsters more than a year to compromise their victims’ accounts, build up debts in their names, destroy their credit ratings and then move on to someone else.
Unsurprisingly, Experian’s research in this report shows it is the UK’s wealthiest citizens who are most likely to be targeted by fraudsters, with the residents of the London Borough of Kensington at greatest risk of an attack. Perhaps more interesting is that younger, less affluent people, who live in rented accommodation and those who change address frequently are increasingly becoming victims. Shared communal halls or a failure to redirect mail make it relatively easy for outsiders to obtain private letters. Fraudsters are going mainstream.
Given that fraud is never going away, and Experian’s Insight Report confirms that no one is immune, it’s up to all of us to minimise the impact it can have.