Data breaches costing UK £4bn per year – driven by increase in identity fraud

Credas Technologies has revealed that identity theft is the driving factor behind more than 28 million data breaches across the UK since 2013, breaches that cost the nation close to £4 billion each and every year.

On a global level, it is estimated that there have been close to 10 billion digital data records stolen or breached since 2013. The UK ranks fifth when it comes to national total data breaches, with over 140 million files stolen or breached in this timeframe, trailing just the USA, India, China, and South Korea.

Across the UK, this equates to an average of 28 million data breaches per year, which is estimated to cost the UK £3.7 billion on an annual basis.

One of the most common motivations for data hacking is identity fraud and the latest data from the National Fraud Database (NFD) shows this fraudulent practice accounts for 63% of all cases of fraudulent conduct. What’s more, cases of identity fraud across the UK have increased by 22% in the past year alone.

With id fraud rising so dramatically, how do companies and individuals avoid falling victim to data hacking criminals? The most important thing is to know exactly what the warning signs are and what you need to be looking out for.

Warning signs of identity theft

  • Missing Documents

Sensitive documents which hold personal information – such as a passport or driving licence – are incredibly valuable to identity thieves. If you discover that any such documents are missing, there is a chance that someone is using your personal information to make purchases or take out credit cards or loans in your name.

  • Missing Mail

In a similar vein, if you notice that bank or credit card statements are not arriving through the post, it might indicate that someone is intercepting your mail and stealing the sensitive information held inside.

  • Unrecognised items on bank statement

Very few people make a point of studying their bank statements each month, but with identity fraud on the rise, it’s more important than ever to do so. Each month, go through your statement and if you spot any transactions that you don’t recognise, contact your bank or credit card provider immediately. They will then help you figure out what’s going on and put a halt to any illegal activity that might be taking place.

  • Duplicated claims

If, for example, you apply for state benefits and are refused on the grounds that you already claim such benefits, it’s important that you look into the situation rather than ignore it because there’s a chance that someone else has applied and is receiving benefits in your name.

  • Solicitor letters

If you receive letters from solicitors, debt collectors, or bailiffs, etc, chasing money that you are sure you don’t owe, it can indicate that someone else is running up debt in your name. The same applies if you receive a court summons that you aren’t expecting.

  • Unexpected deliveries

If you receive deliveries that you have not ordered, it might suggest that someone else is making purchases with your money, especially if the delivered items are expensive, such as a laptop, television, or smartphone. Someone may have ordered the item using your name and bank details and simply forgotten to change the delivery address or intercept the package.

  • Tampered bins

Finally, if you notice that your rubbish or recycling bins have been tampered with, it might be that someone has rummaged through them in search of discarded documents that contain sensitive information. To avoid any such risk, it’s important to shred or destroy sensitive documents before throwing them away.

Tim Barnett, CEO of Credas Technologies says: “All of the most important financial elements of our lives are now handled online. We have passwords and logins for everything from our current accounts to our pension pots and we also apply for new bank accounts, mortgages, rental properties and more online.

While this brings great convenience, it also leaves you vulnerable to criminals and today, the lengths these criminals will go to are advancing at a faster rate than some businesses and organisations are improving their digital security.

Companies big and small need to make sure they’re doing all they can in the fight against online criminality and while that starts with ensuring they have a robust and unbreachable tech infrastructure, it also involves verifying the identity of consumers before they have the opportunity to infiltrate our society.

This is really the absolute minimum that should be done and with many companies choosing to do this manually, it allows far too many to slip through the cracks, enabling them to conduct criminal activities at ground level.”