Recession Fuels UK ID Theft Fears

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Consumer fears over personal identity theft are rising because of the recession, a survey has found

Nearly three quarters of UK citizens think they could be at greater risk of identity theft due to the impact of the global recession according to research.

A report released by mainframe vendor Unisys revealed that 72 percent of UK consumers who took part in the survey were concerned that their identities would be compromised as the downturn helps fuel crime levels.

“It is very interesting to see that fraud fears have deepened as a result of the financial crisis,” said Neil Fisher, vice-president Global Security Solutions at Unisys. “The current economic climate is forcing many companies to cut costs but a real or perceived drop in spending on security can have a major impact on consumer confidence.”

Fisher said that companies cannot afford to stint on measures to protect their customers from online fraud and ID theft. “Now is not the time for UK plc to take its eye off the ball when it comes to keeping customers safe and protected,” he said.

Unisys is obviously keen to paint a picture of security fears rising in the downturn as it makes money from selling security systems for its high-end hardware. However a leaked Home Office report last year did point to a rise in general crime levels – such as burglary – during the recession. However it is not certain that this translates to higher levels of IT-related crimes.

According to the Unisys Security Index report concerns about identity theft are supported by recent findings from Apacs, the payments industry association, which saw total fraud losses on UK debit and credit cards rise by 14 per cent to £609m last year.

In a statement released in March Apacs said that the recently formed Metropolitan Police Service Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), is helping to coordinate law enforcement in the UK to combat criminal gangs exploiting hacking and malware technology.

“The PCeU will also work with the National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC) to provide an enforcement response to technologically-enabled serious crime, and support other police forces on receiving intelligence data from the NFRC,” Apacs said in a statement.

Identity theft is one of the issues that will be tackled at the Infosecurity Europe show in London from the 28th April. Speakers include former home secretary David Blunkett who was one of the backers of the original UK ID Card plan which is supposed to help combat ID Theft amongst other claims.