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Last Updated: Monday, 29 January 2007, 01:37 GMT
Watchdog issues ID theft warning
A credit card being swiped
A survey suggests many people do not protect their financial details
People are risking identity theft by not protecting their personal details, an information watchdog says.

A survey for the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) shows that about 20% of people had been victims of identity theft crime.

One-third threw away bank statements, receipts and other personal documents without shredding or destroying them.

This figure rose to 60% among 16 to 25-year-olds - the age group least protective of personal details.

Identity theft involves names and other information such as address, date of birth and bank account details being stolen by fraudsters.

A quarter of the respondents did not regularly check bank statements for transactions which were not theirs.

And almost half of those surveyed said they used the same PIN and passwords across different accounts.

Internet transactions

The ICO also found that when it came to the internet, many consumers fail to adequately protect their personal details, with 35% of respondents making online debit or credit card transactions without checking the security of the site.

ICO deputy commissioner David Smith said: "We are living in an age where protecting your personal information has never been so important.

"Almost every day we give out our personal details which can leave us open to identity theft, unwanted marketing and a loss of privacy."

The ICO is an independent body which promotes access to official information and the protection of personal information.

It is launching a guide which advises on how to avoid identity theft.

The ICO's online poll consisted of 1,233 people aged 16 and over.

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