In the new BBC TV drama ‘Trust Me’ the story focuses on a nurse who steals a friend’s identity to win a job as a doctor. While this is a work of fiction, identity fraud company Equifax is urging people to think about how easy it would be for friends or associates to steal their identity by gathering useful facts from social media. “While the lead character in the drama uses her friend’s CV to get a new job, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for her to access other personal information via social media sites,” explained Lisa Hardstaff, Identity Fraud Expert at Equifax.
“We conducted research amongst consumers last year and found that there’s still a lack of awareness among consumers that they need to be cautious about what information they put on social media and the privacy settings they use to limit access to that information. It seems that the youngest generations are the most naïve when it comes to this,” continued Hardstaff.
The Equifax-commissioned YouGov survey of 2,000 adults found that only just over half (51%) strongly agreed that sharing personal information such as full names, phone numbers and home addresses on social media websites would increase their risk of identity fraud. Just over a third (37%) tended to agree with the statement. But five percent tended to disagree or strongly disagree and seven percent said they didn't know. And the numbers increased amongst the younger generations, with 18% of 18-24 year olds disagreeing, strongly disagreeing or not knowing whether sharing personal information on social media websites would increase their risk of identity fraud.
Over half (57%) of adults in Great Britain surveyed also admitted to being very worried or fairly worried about being a victim of a facility or account takeover, which is the act of obtaining enough personal details such as account numbers, passwords, usernames to bypass security on existing accounts.
“Victims of ID fraud often don’t know anything is wrong until they get an unexpected bill or see money missing from their account,” continued Hardstaff. “By that time, the fraudsters are long gone. However, a monitoring service like Equifax Identity Watch Pro will alert an individual to activity on their credit report. This allows them to take immediate steps if they identify anything suspicious, to protect themselves from identity theft.
“We always encourage consumers to think about the security of their personal data, treating it as carefully, as they would cash. Fraudsters only need a few key pieces of information to steal someone’s identity and open fraudulent accounts in their name. Consumers should take great care where and how they share their personal information.”
Equifax's top tips to avoid ID theft: