Fraud awareness week launches, with more than nine out of ten people considering themselves to be at risk of identity fraud

News by Dan Raywood

This week marks the annual 'National Identity Fraud Protection Week' for 2010, with claims made that only seven per cent of British people are completely confident that the organisations they deal with treat data responsibly.

This week marks the annual ‘National Identity Fraud Protection Week' for 2010, with claims made that only seven per cent of British people are completely confident that the organisations they deal with treat data responsibly.

Its research found that more than nine out of ten people in the UK (94 per cent) consider themselves to be at risk from identity fraud, with only 44 per cent saying that they regularly check bills and financial statements against receipts and only 55 per cent verifying emails or calls from organisations before responding.

Also, 82 per cent of British people believe that the company they work for does not take identity fraud seriously enough. The campaign group, backed by the Association of Chief Police Officers, Metropolitan Police, City of London Police, the National Fraud Authority and the Home Office, among others, claimed that it is clear that British businesses are not doing enough to prevent identity fraud.

This includes not handling sensitive documents in a secure enough fashion, or not undertaking adequate security checks. Specifically the research found that: only 56 per cent of British organisations have a comprehensive policy to help protect people's identities; and 40 per cent of British employees believe that employees' and customers' identities could be obtained from company bins.

Corresponding with the start of the week, research from Kroll found that the amount lost by businesses to fraud rose from $1.4m to $1.7m per billion dollars of sales in the past 12 months – an increase of more than 20 per cent. Theft of information or assets was reported by 27.3 per cent of companies over the past 12 months, up from 18 per cent in 2009.

According to its 2010 survey, 88 per cent of companies said they had been the victim of at least one type of fraud during the past year. For those companies that have been affected, junior employees and senior management were the most likely perpetrators at 22 per cent, followed by agents or other intermediaries at 11 per cent.

The speed of technological developments poses new challenges in the fight against fraud. Nearly one-third (28 per cent) of respondents cited information infrastructure complexity as the single most important factor in raising their exposure to fraud. However, despite the increased risks, only 48 per cent of companies are planning to spend more on information security in the next 12 months, down from 51 per cent last year.

Melvin Glapion, head of Kroll's UK business intelligence practice, said: “Some of the most concerning findings from the report this year were that challenges faced by corporates investing in unfamiliar territories in search of growth are dissuading them from expansion.

“This is a combination of opportunity lying where fraud risk is highest and at the same time, the penalties for regulatory failure and likelihood of prosecution increasing. Companies can manage these risks but need to think broadly about the appropriate steps taken to minimise exposure and investigate suspicious actions.”

Anders Pettersson, CSO of BlockMaster, said: “A major reason for the increased loss of data is that data is now outside the safe walls of the data centre and is stored in pockets on mobiles and on unsecure USB drives, making it tricky to secure.

“This kind of data today represents pure value for both company and culprit. The digital world today has turned into the Wild West during the Gold Rush and there is no lack of gunslingers – although these cowboys use a keyboard and the internet instead of masks and guns.

“Today's financial climate has also contributed to this problem, enforcing strict limitations on budget expenditure. This means that companies are facing difficulties protecting the most valuable assets for less money. Organisations must clearly change focus and get their eyes on the biggest problem that can be solved most cost-efficiently. Every pound of protection should yield the best protection of the highest value.”

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