Belfast Telegraph

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Mobile device users highly susceptible to identity theft bids, research suggests

Published 03/08/2016

Mobile and social users are targeted by fraudsters.
Mobile and social users are targeted by fraudsters.

Nearly one in four people targeted by identity theft attempts in 2015 were highly tech-savvy users of mobile and social media, according to analysis.

Credit checking company Experian said despite making up just 7.7% of the UK population, those who are at the cutting edge in the digital world made up 23% of victims of ID fraud attempts in 2015.

It said there has been a 16.7% increase in ID theft attempts where this group was targeted over the previous 12 months.

Experian said people in this group tend to have the most gadgets, spend more time online than the general population and use digital services for a wide range of activities. They would also find it extremely hard to go without digital technology. They tend to live in urban areas such as London boroughs or big cities like Manchester or Birmingham.

The next biggest jump in ID theft attempts involved older and retired households, predominantly living in rural communities, with a limited interest in technology, Experian said. This group of people makes up 1.6% of the UK population, but saw ID fraud attempts against them rise by 15.4% year-on-year.

The findings were based on Experian's fraud data for 2015, covering fraud attempts that were thwarted before they got any further. Experian operates fraud prevention system National Hunter, which enables financial institutions to cross-match applications against more than 100 million previous application records, to spot anomalies that are a potential sign of fraud.

Identity thieves will steal someone else's personal details and use them to apply for goods and rack up debts in their name.

Nick Mothershaw, UK and Ireland director of identity and fraud at Experian, said: "It is vital that those embracing technology also embrace protecting themselves online.

"Using the latest device doesn't necessarily mean full protection, and being complacent about the risk of ID theft makes for a tempting target for ID fraudsters.

"At the other extreme, those using more traditional channels are not immune to fraud. These people are being targeted through phone and email scams by fraudsters trying to steal their details.

"They tend to be less aware of the types of scams fraudsters undertake, who can be very manipulative and sound trustworthy on the phone. The sole rule is to never give out personal details, passwords or Pins to anyone, whether it is on the phone or by email."

Here are some tips from Experian to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:

:: H ave unique, secure passwords for each online account. People should consider the strength of their password, always use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

:: Keep up-to-date: Installing the latest antivirus on all devices that are connected to the internet will help to protect from spyware and malware. Updating apps as and when new versions are released will ensure access to the latest features - and will also improve app security and stability.

:: Be social savvy. As open as people may like to be on their social profiles, remember that often the information shared is in the public domain and could be easily traceable. People should be cautious about the information they post, such as their email address, date of birth and family pet names - especially if they may be used as passwords. People should also think twice before adding someone they do not know to their network.

:: A lot of personal information is stored on devices that are not password protected. Emails, apps and messages contain vast amount of information that could be "a goldmine for fraudsters" if the device is lost or stolen, Experian said. People should always lock their mobile device to prevent access to such information.

:: Check the post. Receiving unexpected, irrelevant mail, could be a sign of ID fraud - particularly mail that is outside of the usual purchasing sphere. For example, if a person does not own a car, but suddenly starts receiving copies of a car magazine, this could be an indication that that a car has been purchased in their name.

:: Consider checking your credit report to make sure credit has not been applied for under false pretences.

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