UK credit-checking company Experian has released a report which claims that online identity theft is up 300% on 2010. Be aware this is identity theft, which isn’t the same as identity fraud. Identity theft is where a fraudster collects the information but doesn’t do anything with it.
Identity fraud is where the fraudster uses the information to actually commit a fraudulent offence i.e. take out a credit credit card or loan in your good name. The media still doesn’t understand the difference between theft and fraud. This is a big fail by the media.
As for Experian’s report – they claimed that fraudsters exchanged 12 million pieces of personal online information in the first quarter of 2012. Identity fraud victims are normally unaware that credit cards or mobile phone contracts have been taken out in their good name. The first they know about it is when the bill arrives in the post. The report also highlighted that 14% of identity fraud victims are refused loans or credit cards; 9% of victims had debt run up in their name; 7% of victims were refused a mobile phone contract and another 7% were being chased by debt collectors. The big question here is, how many of these victims were directly related to online identity theft?
The increase in identity fraud Experian claim is ‘partly’ down to people registering for an ever increasing number of online accounts. Experian found users had on average 26 online accounts, but only around five difference passwords.
Digging down into the numbers, I believe Experian should have highlighted the actual financial cost for each of these users, who have 26 online accounts. If anyone could obtain this data, it would be Experian. How many people were affected by the 12 million pieces of information? Also, if passwords were compromised, how many people were affected, and of this number how many were affected by identity fraud? My opinion is that Experian’s report doesn’t provide anything we didn’t know and equally fails to highlight the actual ‘real’ financial impact of the ’12 million pieces of information’. This is another big fail.
My readers should be aware of the following:
- Only use one password for one website
- Change your password from time to time
- Use a FREE Password Manager, to securely store your login data
If the Experian report had highlighted the actual ‘real’ financial impact concerning the 12 million pieces of online information i.e. who had been a victim and how much had it cost them, then I believe this report would have had more credence with the public. Without this information, I doubt whether the public behaviour towards how they manage their online identities will change anytime soon.
Safe surfing folks!