Fraud survey highlights business security failures

Business needs to do more to protect staff and customers from identity fraud, according to a survey of UK consumers.

Businesses need to do more to protect staff and customers from identity fraud, according to a survey of UK consumers.

The survey reveals that 4.3 million UK consumers have been victims of ID fraud. Government statistics show that it costs the UK economy more than £1bn each year and according to credit agency Experian, there was a 66% increase in identity fraud last year.

The survey of more than 1,000 Britons found 97% were not confident that organisations they deal with take adequate steps to protect their information and prevent ID fraud.

This is supported by the finding that 92% of the 468 employees surveyed admitted that customers and staff were vulnerable to ID theft.

Some 75% said their organisation should be doing more to prevent ID theft.

More than half (56%) of employees believe ID information can be stolen from desks, 53% think it can be stolen from paper-based filing systems, 63% say information can be stolen from company computer systems, and 68% say it can be lost in the post.

Meg Hillier MP, the Home Office Minister responsible for ID fraud, said all organisations, including government and business, have a responsibility to protect the details of employees and customers.

Many organisations still lack a clear policy on how to prevent ID theft according to 21% of employees surveyed, while 11% said they were unsure if there was a policy.

The survey found such policies are less common in small and medium enterprises (63%) compared with large companies (72%).

More than half (56%) of UK employees surveyed said they believe ID information can be found in company waste bins and 10% admitted binning sensitive documents intact.

But even in companies where ID theft prevention policies are in place, 36% said they did not have shredding facilities at work.

This highlights that some policies are not as comprehensive as others, the survey report said.

The survey found 12% of UK employees with access to shredders do not use them and 5% were unsure if shredding facilities were available, indicating a lack involvement in protecting sensitive information, the report said.

Tony Marsh, general manager at Royal Mail Security, said, "Preventing ID fraud is mainly about good housekeeping. Do not discard documents such as receipts and bills without destroying them because they tell to much about you."

The survey was conducted by Dynamics Markets in August and was commissioned by business machines supplier, Fellowes, for the annual National Identify Fraud Prevention Week.

Other supporters of this week's identity fraud awareness campaign include the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Metropolitan Police, the Identity and Passport Service, Royal Mail, Callcredit, and Experian.

The campaign has produced a guide on how to protect identity and guard against fraud. The guide says:

  • Keep personal and confidential documents secure
  • Never respond to e-mails asking for personal information
  • Use up-to-date anti-virus software and a personal firewall
  • Always shred documents containing personal information before disposal
  • Check bank accounts regularly for unusual transactions
  • Never give personal information to unidentified people or organisations

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

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