Page last updated at 08:17 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 09:17 UK

Bosses most at risk of ID theft

Computer disc
London is country's hot-spot for ID fraud, Experian said

Company directors or those running their own businesses are most likely to be victims of identity theft, according to a report from Experian.

The credit reference agency said 6,000 victims in the UK asked its staff for help last year, a 66% rise on 2006.

The most likely victims were aged between 26 and 45, earned more than 50,000, rented their home and lived in London, Experian's analysis found.

It takes an average of 18 months for people to realise they are victims.

Capital punished

On average, London residents were twice as likely to become victims of identity fraud as people in the rest of the UK, Experian's Victims of Fraud Dossier found.

Kensington is the fraud hotspot, followed by Richmond-upon-Thames, Putney, Wimbledon and the King's Road area of Chelsea.

Outside the capital, high-risk areas include Great Cambourne near Cambridge, Far Cotton in Northampton, and Ingleby Barwick in Stockton-on-Tees.

People at the pinnacle of their careers are almost three times more likely to become victims than the rest of the population, the analysis found.

Rental risk

Fraud reported to Experian in the second half of 2007 showed that the most common type of fraud was forwarding address fraud.

The dramatic increases in identity fraud we have witnessed over the last few years have coincided with the increasing involvement of organised criminals in this space
Helen Lord, Experian
This scam, which represented 36% of ID fraud, is when a fraudster redirects the victim's mail to an address that the fraudster has access to.

People who rent homes were more likely to be targeted, Experian said, as fraudsters had initial access to details in shared mailboxes and because tenants moved home more often and failed to keep records up to date.

Although the figures were compiled using data of victims who came to Experian for help, a spokesman for the agency said he was confident there had been a big rise in absolute fraud - rather than victims becoming more aware of the crime and so more likely to seek help.

'Organised crime'

"The dramatic increases in identity fraud we have witnessed over the last few years have coincided with the increasing involvement of organised criminals in this space," said Helen Lord, director of fraud and compliance at Experian.

"The rate of identity fraud growth is worrying. Although some people are statistically more likely than others to become a victim, we should all be concerned. We are all potential victims."

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office said people should ensure they shred old documents and use different security numbers for each accounts.

"However, it is also important that organisations which process personal information take their data protection responsibilities seriously. They should take appropriate steps to keep the personal information they hold secure," he added.

TOP 25 MOST-AT-RISK POSTCODES

Rank Postcode Place
1 SW17 6 College Gardens, London SW
2 E 14 5 Chancellor Passage, London E
3 E 14 2 Clove Crescent, London E
4 CB23 5 Great Cambourne, Cambridgeshire
5 SW13 8 Riverview Gardens, London SW13
6 KT19 7 Chessington Road, West Ewell, Kingston Upon Thames
7 SW19 7 Wimbledon, London SW
8 SW11 6 Grandison Road, London SW
9 NN 4 5 Far Cotton, Northampton
10 SW11 1 Cabul Road, London SW
11 TS17 5 Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees
12 WD18 8 Holywell,Watford
13 GU51 1 Rotten Green,Guildford
14 PO15 7 Swanwick, Fareham, Portsmouth
15 BA13 2 Westbury Leigh, Bath
16 SN25 4 Elstree Way, Haydon Wick, Swindon
17 EC2Y 8 Barbican, London EC
18 NW 3 5 South Hampstead, London NW
19 SW15 2 West Hill,Putney,London SW
20 BS16 7 Emersons Green, Bristol
21 NW 3 1 High Street, Hampstead, London NW
22 NW 3 4 Haverstock Hill, London NW
23 SW18 1 Westhill Road, London SW
24 ME 4 3 St Marys Island, Chatham
25 W 1H 1 Crawford Street, London W



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