Fraud Fright – 25.45 million UK personal records exposed to theft and fraud, finds DQM Group report

Dec. 21, 2006 – Almost 25.5 million personal records have been exposed to potential theft and fraud in the UK during the past year according to a new study from data management experts DQM Group. This equates to the same number of identity exposures as there are households in the land.

The DQM Group research findings incorporate both data security breaches on the internet, along with poor practice over paper-based personal records. An ‘exposure’ occurs when a sufficiently detailed record is exposed for identity theft and fraud to take place.

These findings come at a time when 75% of the world’s largest financial services organisations are reporting a security breach in the last year[1]. The study serves to highlight the enormous security challenge facing British private and public sector organisations in today’s data-rich society, as well as focusing attention on the need for more sophisticated methods of tracing fraudsters and data thieves.

Security measures are currently concentrated on avoiding security breaches, yet DTI figures show that these are increasing nevertheless. Adrian Gregory, Managing Director, DQM Group, comments: “More attention needs to be paid to tracking and tracing data abusers, identity thieves and fraudsters once a breach has occurred, so that criminals can be brought to justice and the growing identity fraud problem be actively reduced. This can achieved by inserting seed names into databases. These are agents or identities that appear to be real customers, but have in fact been inserted into the database to obtain a view of any unauthorised use of record.”

The DQM Group study aggregated information on personal record exposures from a variety of public and private sources. However, the research took care to err on the side of caution and conservatism, especially with market research sources. The resulting figure for personal record exposures over the last year may therefore understate somewhat the true situation.

Adrian Gregory adds: “UK public and private sector organisations are holding an increasing volume of data on customers and citizens. If such organisations are to continue to be allowed to use this information to improve customer service, they also have to take on the responsibility of keeping it safe and secure. The exposure of 25.45 million personal records every year to potential theft and fraud is already unacceptable. In addition, individuals must become more savvy and responsible about the way they keep and dispose of their personal records. For organisations to concentrate only on internal systems security is not enough. Equal attention needs to be given to ways of tracking and tracing abusers and fraudsters after a data breach has occurred, so that the perpetrators might more frequently be brought to justice. Only by removing the criminal element from the picture can the tidal wave of identity fraud be turned back.”

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For a copy of the full research report or further information, please contact:

Aidan Holloway
Lindsell Marketing
020 7087 8053

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