National Identity Fraud Prevention Week begins as calls made for data loss to be taken more seriously

Only three per cent of people have complete confidence in their data being handled responsibly.

At the start of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, two sets of independent research commissioned by Fellowes and the National Fraud Authority (NFA) show that one third of small and medium-sized businesses have been impacted by fraud.

Meanwhile 97 per cent of British consumers are experiencing a corresponding crisis in confidence over data handling.

Research by the campaign group has highlighted not only a lack of understanding of the risks identity fraudsters pose amongst the business community – but also the shocking non-existence of relevant and resourceful information for those businesses trying to practise vigilance.

Independent research by Fellowes for this year's campaign found that only 64 per cent of businesses have put in place a clear policy on how to handle documents with sensitive information, while the same amount believe that bins are a bigger risk to customer details than computer systems or document theft.

According to the NFA, when it comes to looking at the impact of fraud, 62 per cent of businesses fear consequential financial loss, while 43 per cent worry about the effect fraud could have on their reputation.

National Identity Fraud Prevention Week aims to encourage businesses and consumers to take action now, ensuring that ID fraud prevention is practised with vigilance at home and in the work place. Until this is done, instances of identity fraud are set to continue to increase, leaving more victims in its path.

Commenting, Yurong Lin, CEO of Deepnet, said: “It is always good to have campaigns but it should not last for only a week, it should last forever and be practised on a daily basis. Identity theft is a huge problem for people and in business and all the figures we read are pointing out that it is an increasing problem. It is not too late to educate people or raise awareness.

“People are now doing everything online and certainly cybercriminals are now focussed on getting people's identity so they can steal their money, it is not the majority percentage who do this but if we do not fix it then it can only get worse.”

As the week launched, Stonewood called for the Government to set tougher penalties for Data Protection Act (DPA) breaches, as it claimed that the Government does not appear to be taking DPA breaches seriously, with custodial sentences still being considered and no official confirmation on whether they will ever be implemented.

Chris McIntosh, CEO of the Stonewood Group, said: “The Government needs to take greater responsibility for combating identity fraud; unless it sends a clear message that there are heavy consequences to neglecting to secure data, then ID fraud will only escalate and the cost to Britain will continue to rise.

“Businesses can easily protect data by using hardware encryption and authentication, eradicating any risk of data loss and helping reduce the growing ID fraud threat. The problem is, until businesses understand there are massive consequences to DPA breaches, including heavy fines and the threat of jail, they are not going to invest in resolving the problem.”

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