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Identity theft in the UK rises by over 50%

Identity theft in the UK rises by over 50%

According to the BBC, the number of victims of identity theft in the United Kingdom rose by 57% last year. Fraudsters increasingly check social media sites to get their hands on personal data.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great sites to connect with people. On the other hand, these sites are great for fraudsters to collect people’s personal data and make money out of it. In 2015 there were more than 148,000 identity theft victims in the UK, while in 2014 there were just 94,500, reports the BBC. In most cases, fraudsters got hold of names, dates of birth, addresses and a telephone numbers that social media users made available online.

Users in their everyday online life cannot be 100 percent safe, but there are some things to keep in mind while using social media sites. In general, it is a good idea to post personal information sparingly. Personal details should not be given away easily, as well as pictures of one’s home or workplace. Users should also have a close look at the privacy settings of their social media profile; complete strangers should not be able to access their full profiles. Users should also check if the profiles of their contacts are real rather than simply accept every request that comes their way.

Last but not least: everyone on the net should of course be using strong passwords for all their accounts. That means a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation marks. A minimum of 10 characters can be regarded as strong protection and each password should only be used for one account. Otherwise if a hacker gets hold of one password, they could wreak havoc over someone’s entire digital life, ultimately impacting things offline too.

However, rising identity theft is not only a threat for people using the internet but also for companies. To protect their business and their revenue, companies should consider the implementation of anti-fraud software. Modern anti-fraud systems are able to spot and trace fraud patterns. For example: a noticeable number of new customers, who perform transactions in the same region, can lead to the conclusion that there is possibly a fraudster who is using stolen identities. By using state-of-the-art device fingerprinting, it is possible to filter all transactions that are performed by different identities but on the same device. If we want to reverse the rising trend of identity theft, we all need to take responsibility for fighting fraudsters more intelligently.