ID fraudsters turn household rubbish into gold

Trevor McDonald
7/13/2005 – ITV’s Tonight Show presented by Trevor McDonald highlighted the issue of consumers leaving personal information in their bins, therefore putting them at risk from ID fraud.

However, recent research from MyEquifax.co.uk, the instant online credit information provider, reveals that there could be a conflict between the pressure to recycle and the need to protect against ID fraud by shredding personal documents.

MyEquifax contacted 96 English councils – 29% said that they do not collect shredded paper for recycling. And of those councils that do accept shredded paper, over 13% required it to be separated from other paper waste. And the pressure will increase, as by March 2006 up to 25% of household waste should be recycled to meet European targets.

Neil Munroe, External Affairs Director of MyEquifax comments, “The programme highlighted the fact that fraudsters will go to any lengths to obtain personal finance documents. It is therefore essential that consumers shred documents such as bank statements, bills and direct mail. Leaving sensitive material intact when recycling is an open invitation to fraudsters and is like giving them a gold credit card. A bank statement or electricity bill provides enough information for them to take a person’s identity and rack up huge amounts of debt in the victim’s name. It is therefore vital that consumers continue to shred documents to protect themselves against ID fraud, especially as so many recycling bags and boxes are left outside houses, often for more than a day before they are collected”

Tyron Hill, Senior European Product Manager of Fellowes, leading shredder manufacturer, adds, “I think people will be surprised to learn that everyday documents that are thrown away can be pieced together to make a fraudulent transaction. It is more important than ever that people invest in a shredder and ensure any documents that contain details of financial transactions or personal information are shredded before they reach the recycling bin.”

Munroe concludes, “A recent survey revealed that a quarter MyEquifax customers have already been victims of ID fraud and over two thirds are concerned that they may be at risk from identity fraud. It is now one of Britain’s fastest growing crimes and costs the economy £1.3 billion a year. False identity and impersonation fraud has increased by over 600% in the last 5 years, and 120,000 cases were reported in 2004 alone. The real issue is if consumers stop shredding items such as statements and receipts but continue to recycle, they may fall victim of ID fraud.

To help consumers protect themselves from ID Fraud MyEquifax has launched Equifax Credit Watch™, the ultimate tool to prevent identity theft and help consumers with their financial management. Equifax Credit WatchTM monitors an individual’s credit report and alerts them to any changes as soon as they happen. The service is designed for anyone concerned that they might be at risk from or targeted by identity thieves

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