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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 11 June 2007

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IDENTITY THEFT: WHERE NEXT?

THE CPP Group, a leading international Life Assistance organisation, is urging people to better safeguard themselves against all different types of identity theft, due to an alarming rise in identity theft fraud this year.  With account takeover crime (where a fraudster takes control of your bank account) up 24% in the first 3 months of this year, and mobile phone contract crime and credit card applications staying consistently high (22% and 34% of all identity fraud cases), consumers need to be aware that identity theft fraud can take a number of different guises.

CPP identity theft data shows an increase of 313% in the number of serious fraud cases from March 2006 – March 2007. And not only is there an increasing number of different ways criminals are now using people’s identities for fraudulent purposes, they are increasingly using 1 identity for a multitude of crimes. The number of instances of identity theft reported per claim has risen by more than double, with now an average of 6 companies being defrauded by criminals using just 1 person’s identity and in some cases up to 40 companies becoming victim.  This rise in multiple identity theft fraud has also had a knock on effect on how long it takes to resolve an identity theft case. Currently, it takes around 8 to 10 weeks to resolve a case with companies now requiring further proof and evidence to show the validity of a claim. Case amounts are currently average £6,000, making identity theft a very lucrative business.

Most Popular Types of Identity Theft by Percentage

Types of Identity theft Dec Jan Feb Mar
Mobile Phone 34% 37% 42% 21%
Credit Card Applications 25% 22% 21% 20%
Account Takeover 6% 19% 23% 30%
Loans (unsecured) 16% 8% 15% 17%
Car Lease 3%     1%
Cloned Car Number Plate 3% 5%   2%
Bank Account Opened 16% 2% 15% 8%
Catalogue / Store Cards 19% 24% 23% 3%

Notes: Case/Fraud types exceed 100% due to some cases containing more than 1 type of fraud

Danny Harris, identity theft expert at CPP, comments:- “Consumers are still not aware that identity theft fraud takes place in a number of different ways and therefore are still not protecting themselves sufficiently or at the very least knowing what to look out for in case they have become a victim of an identity theft crime.  Identity theft can happen in any number of ways and only a few personal details are needed. These can be obtained by fraudsters in several ways; cold-calling, phishing, mail interception and skimming are just some of the methods of determining individuals’ personal information which are then used for fraudulent purposes such as account takeovers and taking out mobile phone contracts.

Over the past year we have seen not only an increase in the number of cases of identity theft, but also in complexity and size. We have noticed a multitude of frauds in each case. Once the fraudster has got hold of enough information to commit identity fraud, they approach a number of financial institutions as well as other service providers in a short space of time and then sit back to reap the rewards.”

Identity Theft Crimes Glossary and Further Analysis

"Account takeover fraud" is where criminals use fraudulently obtained personal information and card details to deceive a bank or card company into believing they are the genuine cardholder. Fraudsters then take over and start accessing the cardholders account.

"Mobile phone contract fraud"
is where criminals take out mobile phone contracts in other peoples names. The frequency of fraudulent mobile phone contracts is high as it only requires a couple of documents with your name and address such as a bank statement, a utility bills or a pay slip. These items can be easily obtained by numerous methods – mail redirection, mail interception, bin raiding and the purchase of fake personal identifying documents from the internet. This type of crime is relatively quick and easy but the reward is lower.

"Credit card application and unsecured loans fraud"
happens when a criminal opens up a credit card or applies for a loan in someone else’s name. An unsecured loan can be more difficult to gain and may require more personal information. In such circumstances an identity fraudster will look at how to get this information. This can be done through social engineering (including asking people in the streets as part of surveys, door step selling and bogus phone calls), theft of personal documents (burglary a prime example) or institutional theft (hacking into company databases, theft of laptops, corrupt employees selling details). Once armed with this information it is possible to purchase all of the fake documents which are needed to commit the taking out of a false loan.

"False bank" accounts are currently a low risk identity theft fraud although it has high rewards. This is due to the time it takes to build up a relationship with the bank before they can then go on to take out credit cards and loans fraudulently. For some fraudsters, they are not willing to spend so much time into it.

"Car lease fraud"
happens when a criminal leases a car in someone else's name. It is low risk, however once this crime has been committed it can take many weeks to rectify. However, with the increased prevalence of false documents being available for sale on the internet this looks set to increase.

"Number plate cloning"
has stayed consistently low. This is probably due to the fact that there is limited financial gain in car plate cloning. It is often done to avoid detection and prosecution if the criminals are driving a stolen car or committing more serious crimes such as robbery. Number plate cloning is expected to increase as more cities introduce congestion charges and due to the relative ease and cheapness in which people can purchase false plates from the internet.

"Taking out false catalogue / store cards"
, usually happens around busy shopping times such as Christmas and New Year. As more people hit the shops around Christmas and the New Year sales period, the fraudsters take advantage of the large amount of applications usually taken out in this period as they are less likely to be found out.

Future of the internet revealed

VIRTUAL driving lessons, online truancy alerts for parents and reporting bad drivers are just some of the services that people in the North West of England long to have online, according to research. The study commissioned by public services supersite www.direct.gov.uk, asked parents, teenagers, over 50s, motorists and disabled people what one service they want to be available online and the results provide an interesting vision for the future of the web.

Parents - the virtual school: 20% of parents in the North West most want to receive immediate online alerts if their child hasn't turned up for registration at school. Getting more involved in school life is also a priority, with 10% wanting to view the school's disciplinary record online and 8% wanting to use the web to have say in the running of their child's school, such as attending online PTA meetings. Supporting their child's learning was a key theme, with 1 in 12 North West parents hoping that the internet might one day enable them to have a secure webcam in their child's classroom - and in separate focus group sessions, parents said they'd like to be able to play back school lessons to help with homework.

Young people - planning for the future:- Almost a quarter of 14-18 year olds in the North West said they'd most want to be able to have virtual driving lessons and 20% would like to be able to take virtual tours of colleges and universities. 1 in 7 most want to be able to have job interviews online and almost 1 in 10 want to be able to ditch the traditional Saturday job to earn money online using their skills. So it seems that despite their reputation for gaming and chatting online, the North West's young people most want to be able to use the internet as a tool to improve themselves.

Over 50s - staying connected:- More than a 5th of over 50s most want an online guide to local services for their age group, including transport, leisure, learning and health and 12% want to stay in better touch with friends and family via webcams and video conferencing. 1 in 14 most want to be able to track their pension online in future and the same number are concerned about having continued access to the internet - wanting to ensure that they could continue to use it despite any physical impairment. Interestingly, some of the services most desired by the over 50s already exist or will be available in the near future on websites such as www.direct.gov.uk suggesting that this generation may be failing to take advantage of the web.

Motorists - responsible driving:- For motorists in the North West, services which would save them time and make them a more responsible driver are a priority. A quarter most want to be able to renew their car tax and 1 in 6 want to be able to calculate the exact carbon emissions of their car online - the highest figure in the UK. 14% most want to check the history of their 2nd hand car on the web and 1 in 10 want to use the internet to get insurance quotes after an accident. A similar number want to be able to use the internet to report bad drivers.

Disabled people - passport to freedom:- For disabled people in the North West the most desired future services are those which could allow them more freedom and save them time. 1 in 7 most want the ability to plan journeys with accessibility mapped out according to their requirements and 1 in 10 would most like to test drive an adapted car online. Having face-to-face health check-ups, a voice service which would provide verbal information in response to questions and being able to attend their favourite theatre productions online were named as the most important future online services for 1 in 14 respondents respectively.

Spencer Kelly of the BBC's flagship technology programme, Click, said:- "Internet technology is developing all the time and every group in society will benefit as its capabilities grow. Although some of the responses from the study may seem a little farfetched, there is no reason why you wouldn't be able to have a job interview or attend the theatre online in future - after all, 10 years ago who'd have thought you would be able to do any of the things we now take for granted at the click of a button?"

Jayne Nicakalls, Director of Directgov explains the thinking behind the research:- "With 62% of respondents in the North West saying that the internet is invaluable in helping them to manage their lives, this project helps us to understand what information people want and to scope out the future of online services. Although each group has different needs and priorities, some themes did emerge; staying connected with friends and family, saving time and hassle by increasingly moving to web-based contact with public services and tools that enhance life experiences.  With 55% of North West respondents saying they want more government services in one place online, all of the insights we gained will be taken into consideration as we plan the future of Directgov. The site currently offers a wide range of services and there's something for everyone, from advice on schools, applying for a driving license and finding a job, to understanding benefits rights, planning a journey and finding out about local recycling schemes."

Store’s search to find new glamour girl

WANNABE glamour models are being given the chance to become the face of leading high street adult shop Nice ‘n’ Naughty.

Director Simon Prescott is looking for a star in the making to feature in the company’s next advertising campaign.  “It’s a great opportunity for someone looking to break into modelling. The winner will be seen by thousands of people visiting our chain of stores,” he added.

Nice ‘n’ Naughty is the fastest growing adult chain in the UK and has stores across Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and North Wales.

Entrants need to be over the age of 18 and should send a recent photograph along with daytime contact details to Nice ‘n’ Naughty Model Contest, c/o Rossiter Media, 19, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JA or by email to info@rossitermedia.co.uk.

A short list of finalists will be asked to attend a photocall at the Nice ‘n’ Naughty store in London Street, Southport, where the winner will be crowned by a judging panel.

www.liverpoolreporter.com

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