Credit Expert

May 23, 2012 06:38 ET

London Gets Gold for ID Fraud

- Visitors to London warned of the heightened risk of ID fraud during the Games

- 7.7m people coming to the capital during the Olympics but only three per cent concerned about ID fraud

- Olympic venue boroughs Woolwich and Stratford among the UK's worst areas for the crime

NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - May 23, 2012) - London could be set for a rise in identity fraud this summer as new figures from Experian CreditExpert reveal that 7.7 million Britons from outside the capital are set to descend on some of the UK's worst areas for ID theft - while 1.9 million Londoners plan to escape.1

London, the boroughs around many of the Games venues in particular, is already home to the UK's worst ID fraud hotspots, with rates of attempted fraud up to 11 times higher than the national average. These include East Ham (11 times higher), Woolwich (6.5 times higher) and Stratford itself (six times higher).2

There will be a mass influx of people into these areas, carrying personal information in the forms of UK bank account details, and credit card details. This leaves individuals at a high risk of Identity Fraud with individuals, in unfamiliar surroundings, exercising less caution than they would normally adhere to in their normal surroundings. This presents a massive opportunity to fraudsters, with visitors likely to have passports and other pieces of personal identification about their person, be freely using smart phones and unsecured WiFi hotspots, and also potentially sharing hostels or rented accommodation with strangers all of which increase the risk of identity theft.

Visitors are therefore advised to keep a close eye on their personal information, and on their credit report following their visit for any signs of unusual activity. CreditExpert also provides alerts if your personal details appear anywhere unexpectedly online so it is easy to protect yourself pro-actively.

Passports Think about how much sensitive information you really need to have about your person - if your hotel booking has your card number and address, do you need to carry it around with you, for instance? Likewise, don't take your passport out with you unless you absolutely have to. If you are staying in a hotel for the Games, ask for sensitive documents to be securely stored in the hotel safe when you are not using them.
PIN codes Make sure that no-one else can see you enter your PIN code at ATMs and chip and pin machines, particularly in large crowds. Do not write down or carry your PIN code with you.
Smartphones If you have a smartphone, you'll certainly want to photograph and tweet your time at the Olympics, but be particularly careful what you share when connected to an unsecured wireless network. Also ensure you switch off Bluetooth and roaming settings when not required and ensure you use a password.
Post If you're going to be one of the lucky ones visiting London for a few weeks to enjoy the Games, think about what you'll do with your post. Intercepted post is one of the key ways in which fraudsters can take people's detail, so it could be worth setting up a redirect for the duration of the Games.
Face-to-face Check the credentials of anyone asking for your personal information, whether by phone, face-to-face or over the internet. If in doubt, don't do it!

The Experian CreditExpert research reveals that no fewer than one in six Britons (16 per cent) is planning on visiting London during the Olympics, half as tourists and half to attend the Games themselves. Seventeen per cent of people coming to the capital have not been for more than a decade, with a further three per cent making their first ever trip to the city.

Nearly six out of 10 (59 per cent) will be staying for several days. Although one in four (25 per cent) will be staying in hotels and one in five (21 per cent) with friends, a significant minority (four per cent) will risk staying in a hostel and two per cent will be renting a property or someone's spare room - some 154,000 people.3

And although they are concerned about large crowds (23 per cent) and the expense of London (20 per cent), just three per cent are worried about identity fraud.

The risk of ID fraud among visitors is arguably heightened by the decision of many Londoners to quit the capital during the course of the Games. One in 14 (seven per cent) are looking to leave London for the duration of the Olympics, with a further one in six (17 per cent per cent) planning to get out of the city for at least some of the period.

But it's not just newcomers who need to be careful. The one in 20 Londoners taking on a lodger or renting out a room or their whole property need to be aware they are putting themselves at risk of ID fraud by inviting a stranger into their home and are advised to ensure personal details are locked away and post collected promptly.

Peter Turner, Managing Director at Experian Interactive, commented: "This is set to be a once in a lifetime summer. But that doesn't mean people should let their guard down - just because you are holidaying in the UK, you should still take the same precautions you would if you were on a city break to Europe.

"Identity fraud is one of the fastest-growing crimes of the 21st century, and anyone could be at risk from fraudsters getting hold of their personal information, particularly if they are in an unfamiliar area, renting a flat short-term or a room in a B&B. Likewise if you are a homeowner letting a spare room just for the Olympics, do ensure all your personal details are kept safe from visitors."

"This is why it is so important to have proper safeguards in place to protect your identity. With Experian CreditExpert if the worst should happen you will be alerted to any significant changes to your credit report so that you can react quickly and keep the risks to a minimum."

Identity fraud hotspots

Top 10
10k households Top 10 in
10k households
Slough 25 East Ham 78
London (all) 22 Woolwich 46
Gravesend 20 Stratford 43
Birmingham 17 Ilford 33
Luton 16 Walthamstow 27
Manchester 15 Harrow 27
Leicester 14 Cheapside 26
High Wycombe 13 Lewisham 26
Peterborough 13 Hatfield 26
Windsor 12 Enfield 26

To avoid becoming a victim of identity fraud this summer, Experian CreditExpert suggests some further tips:

1. Keep an eye on your credit report
It's a history of all your credit accounts and will highlight any irregularities such as suspect applications for credit and rises in card balances. You can view your credit report free with a 30 day trial with Experian CreditExpert.**(*New customers only. Monthly fee after trial ends)
2. If in doubt, don't click
If an email purporting to be from a hotel or linked to the Games seems suspicious, contact the relevant organisation and don't give out personal details. Your bank, credit card provider and any reputable business will never ask for confirmation of details by email.
3. If you do become a victim of fraud
Don't forget you can sign up to Experian's CreditExpert whose dedicated victims of fraud team will work on your behalf to resolve the issue.

Notes to editors:

1. The UK adult population is 48,091,600 (ONS). Sixteen per cent of adults are set to come to London during the Olympics. Therefore: 0.16 x 48,091,600 = 7,694,656 or 7.7 million.

The population of Greater London is 7,753,000 (ONS) 24 per cent of Londoners are looking to leave the capital during some or all of the Games. Therefore: 0.24 x 7,753,000 = 1,860,720 or 1.9 million

2. Based on analysis of information from the National Hunter anti-fraud data sharing system and the Insurance Hunter database.

3. 0.02 x 7694656 = 153,893 or 154,000

Key benefits of Experian CreditExpert membership:

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About Experian

Experian is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients around the world. The Group helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.

Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended 31 March 2012 was US$4.5 billion. Experian employs approximately 17,000 people in 44 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; California, US; and São Paulo, Brazil.

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