Identity theft hits a record high and insurers are being targeted

Padlock & CodingIdentity theft is never far from the headlines and now the fraudsters are using stolen identities to take out insurance policies. A recent report by the leading fraud prevention service Cifas has revealed that identity fraud is at an all-time high with nearly 500 identities being stolen every day. They also recorded a staggering jump of 10,000% in the use of stolen personal details to purchase insurance products.

Identity fraud has increased by 5% in the first six months of the year and has now reached ‘epidemic levels’. Given that the vast majority of identity fraud is carried out on the internet, and that we are sharing more and more personal data online, it looks like a problem that is set to continue.

Online fraudsters are much more sophisticated than you might think and are always looking for new ways to commit crime. The latest ‘trick’ is to use stolen identities to buy insurance and the statistics suggest it’s quickly becoming commonplace. There have also been increases in the use of stolen identities to purchase telecoms packages and take out loans, while the percentage used to open bogus bank accounts and apply for plastic has fallen (although the latter still makes-up the lion’s share).

Another study carried out by the credit reference agency Experian mirrored the findings, but with one interesting twist. They found that while identity thieves have traditionally targeted pensioners they are now more likely to target millennials. It looks like the over 60s are getting increasingly tech-savvy while the under 20s are sharing more data and less likely to check their bank statements.

Ten ways to stop identity theft

Nobody is immune If you are online you are a potential target for identity theft; no matter what age or what size your business.

Strengthen your passwords use a complex combination of letters, characters, numbers and symbols which are harder for hackers to crack. Never share passwords, don’t write them down and change them regularly.

Protect your hardware Make your machines more secure by using password protected access. If a device doesn’t have the right software there are plenty of apps that will do the job.

Make personal private Don’t share important private details on social media and that includes your date of birth. Check your social security settings to make sure you aren’t over-sharing.

Run security updates Research has shown that installing computer security and keeping it updated will stop 80% of cyber threats.

Check your mail Keeping a close eye on your bank account and checking your mail can help to spot the signs that your identity has been stolen. If you receive an unsolicited application for a financial product in the post; get in touch with the provider.

Be wary of Wi-Fi The best things in life aren’t always free and public Wi-Fi should only be used for browsing and never accessing any accounts.

Don’t talk to strangers Give cold callers the cold shoulder, even if you think you can trust them.

Shred your paperwork While 83% of identity theft is committed online fraudsters will happily rummage around in your bins to help build-up a personal profile.

Report anything suspicious If you think that your private information has been compromised get in touch with Action Fraud (the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre)

 

 

 


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