Page last updated at 01:29 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 02:29 UK

Firms 'mishandle sensitive data'

Shredded documents
Shredding paper containing sensitive information can help cut ID fraud

About a third of UK employees throw sensitive documents in the bin instead of shredding them, research suggests.

The study also found almost three-quarters of workers felt their organisations could do more to protect their customers' sensitive information.

The data was compiled for National Identity Fraud Prevention Week.

Identity fraud costs the UK more than £1.2bn annually. The UK's Fraud Prevention Service says 60,000 people have fallen victim so far this year.

ID fraud involves fraudsters stealing personal details and then using them - often to apply for credit or benefits in their victim's name.

'Simple steps'

The survey of 1,000 employees suggested 36% did not know know or were unsure if they had a comprehensive policy in place on handling potentially sensitive documents.

Away from the workplace, 64% of people admitted failing to shred sensitive personal documents at home.

Meanwhile about 12% said they used the internet without having any security software in place and only 21% regularly checked their credit report to ensure no-one had been making applications to borrow money in their name.

Meanwhile, fewer than half of those questioned chased up mail which they had expected but which had failed to arrive.

National Identity Fraud Prevention Week spokesman, Tyron Hill, said the threat of identity fraud was "real and current".

"People are either naive or they continue to ignore the advice that could keep their identity, their finances and their reputation safe," he said.

"Even simple steps, like thoroughly shredding any documents with your name and address on them, will help to minimise your exposure."

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