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Southport & Mersey Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 3 December 2007

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THE CPP Group, a leading Life Assistance organisation, released its latest Identity Theft Report, which showed that identity theft continues to spiral out of control with the public still not being vigilant enough.

As identity fraud is moving into the realm of organised crime, it is not surprising to find that the number of identity theft fraud cases continues to triple year-on-year with 320% increase from September 2006. A total of 1,082 serious cases of identity theft have reported to CPP and over 205,000 calls have been made into its identity protection advice line since January.  Account takeover crime (where a fraudster takes control of your bank account) remains the most popular form of identity fraud and surged to over 50% of all cases during the summer month. Fraudsters are also actively taking out unsecured loans (16%), opening bank accounts (14%), and taking out mobile phone contracts (12%) and credit cards (11%) in our names.

To demonstrate how easy it is to get hold of someone’s personal information, CPP conducted an experiment in social engineering in October this year. Posing as market researchers from a fabricated theatre tickets company in central London, CPP managed to get hold of a list of important personal information from individuals including bank details without hesitation.

According to Danny Harrison, identity theft expert at CPP:- “It is worrying that members of the public part with their personal information so easily, but this does not come as a surprise. The majority of individuals have still not realised that their personal information is the gateway to loans, bank accounts and all forms of credit.  Another recent CPP survey also reported that two-thirds of identity theft victims confessed they didn’t look after their personal information properly, while 15% admitted to not changing their behaviour afterwards in order to safeguard their personal information.”  Harrison continued:- “Over the past year we have seen not only an increase in the number of cases of identity fraud, but also the complexity of each case. This is partly due to the availability of tools on the internet which can be used to commit identity fraud, such as ‘replica’ documentation, along with the false perception that it is a victimless crime that does not hurt anyone.  Consumers are still not doing enough to safeguard themselves against identity theft and they need to do more to look after their financial affairs. The impact of identity fraud can lead to considerable financial losses and put victims through great stress”.

Identity Theft Crimes Glossary and Further Analysis
Account takeover has risen drastically since January 2007, as predicted in our previous report. It peaked during summer months as the criminals were taking advantage of people going on vacation and not scrutinising their statements as thoroughly as they should

A perceived drop in the number of mobile phone contracts being taken out fraudulently is in fact masked by the sheer volume increase in account takeovers. The documentation required to obtain a contract phone is minimal and can easily be obtained by various methods, such as mail redirection, mail interception, bin raiding and the purchase of fake personal identifying documents off the internet. The crime is easy to commit with a relatively lower reward. However, with the latest generation of 3G phones becoming increasingly popular we expect the financial cost of this type of fraud to increase

Fraudulent credit card application and unsecured loans are consistently high. These are credit items which show less of a seasonal shift. Unsecured loans are more difficult to obtain and may require more personal information. In such circumstances an identity theft fraudster will put considerable effort into getting this information

False bank accounts opened currently stands at 14%. This is a crime with high rewards but it takes more time for fraudsters to build up a relationship with a bank before they can apply for credit cards and loans fraudulently. For some criminals, it can be too time-consuming to attempt

Car lease fraud doesn’t appear to be a major problem in the UK but it can be difficult to resolve depending on what personal documents have been used to set up the lease. In order to carry out this crime it can require key identifying documentation like, for example, a driving licence. This type of documentation is generally classified as difficult to copy, and therefore if you do become a victim of this type of fraud, it means the lease companies will ask for a lot of proof to clear your name. As a rule, the more important the personal information required, the harder and more complicated it is to clear your name

Number plate cloning has stayed consistently low. This is probably due to the fact that there is limited financial gain, rather it is often done to avoid detection and prosecution if you are driving a stolen car or committing more serious cases like robbery. Number plate cloning is expected to increase with more cities introducing congestion charges and it is relatively easy to purchase false plates off the internet

False catalogue/store cards have remained low since March.

Fraudsters choose to take advantage of the large number of applications during Christmas and New Year sales as it is less likely to be caught. It would be interesting to see whether this will pick up over the next few months


HOPE University in Liverpool, is offering the competition of a lifetime. Up for grabs, is the chance to not only study a 3 year media degree, with all course fees fully paid by the University, but also take part in work experience in Radio City. 

The course launched in 2003, has grown rapidly due to the hotbed of creativity amongst the young people in North West, now currently attracts more than 350 students. The course of study involves television, radio, film, digital photography, animation, marketing, PR, print journalism, media theory, popular culture, and web design.  It aims to capture the excitement of this rapidly changing and highly influential industry. The programme has been designed alongside the media, creative and cultural industries, so in addition to making programmes and features, students will also design, produce, distribute and promote their own campaigns.

The winner of the Radio City Scholarship will receive a wide range of experiences in the programming departments of Radio City, Magic 1548 and City Talk. They will have the chance to:

· Be a runner on the Radio City Breakfast Show - including collecting vox pops and occasionally being the presenters side kick on the streets of Merseyside

· Experience working with the Breakfast Show producer preparing forthcoming programmes and features

· Work with the programming department to choose the playlist and test the music with listeners for feedback

· Work with Programme Director to develop innovative and effective on air competitions

· Carry out research for City Talk shows

· To develop programming ideas for the City Talk Station

Experience in the News and Sports Team will include:
· Shadowing the News team writing, producing and presenting stories

· Carrying out background research for the News Team

· Working with the online editor to transfer the stories on to the website

· Sitting in on the Sports Shows

John McCarthy, Director of Marketing, Recruitment and External Relations at Liverpool Hope said:- “It is excellent that Liverpool Hope University, working in collaboration with the region’s largest commercial radio station, is able to offer what can only be described as ‘a life changing opportunity for one lucky student’. The University and Radio City have worked hard to ensure that the package on offer in the Scholarship is financially attractive and provides invaluable work experience in the field.”

How to apply

To be eligible to win the Scholarship, you must apply to study BA Media (Single Honours or Combined) with Liverpool Hope University, making us FIRST CHOICE on your UCAS application. Details of how to apply are available on the UCAS website. Once in receipt of your application, Liverpool Hope will contact you directly with further information.  Tel 0151 291 3111
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