reveals British public lending a hand to online fraudsters

From: Experian
Published: Fri Aug 27 2010

New research by has revealed just how relaxed the Great British public are when it comes to protecting themselves in the digital world. In the face of one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, the research has shown that millions of online users are readily making the information required to steal their identities available to digital fraudsters.

The online study commissioned to mark the launch of the new fraud protection service by Experian, revealed that three of the most regularly used passwords (town of birth (24%), date of birth (18%) and name of past schools (18%)**) also feature in a top ten of personal details which the public include on social networking and dating sites. By making these personal details so accessible online, people are making themselves easy targets for digital criminals who are ready to maximise this information for fraudulent activities such as ID theft.

The new study looked at how willing the public are to display personal details online compared with the information they are prepared to give out to people/companies contacting them by phone. The figures are vastly different, with minimal numbers of people admitting to give out such personal information directly to strangers (Town of Birth (7%), Name of past schools (1%), mother’s maiden name (6%)**).

In addition, the research revealed that over half the population (51%)** use the same online password for some or most of their online accounts, with 52%** admitting to never changing their online passwords, or only changing their passwords when they believe their online account may have been compromised or have been prompted to do so.

Speaking about the research results, Pete Turner, Managing Director of Experian Interactive, said: "The results of our research show that the message of identity fraud is still not being heard. The Internet is accessible to almost everyone and as the number of users grow, so do those using it for criminal purposes. Users need to be aware of what information they are giving out online and who might be accessing it. People are clearly aware of the dangers of giving away personal details to strangers calling them up on the phone, so why are they giving this information away to a huge audience online?"

2009 research conducted by Experian revealed that people took longer to discover that they had become a victim of fraud, indicating that fraudsters are getting better at covering their tracks; the average time taken is now 416 days, up 17 days compared to 2008*. Year on year, reported fraud rose most sharply in early summer, rising by 57% in May and by 74% in June* - the highest number ever reported to Experian in any single month. The average financial loss per victim was £1,100 in 2009 and the most extreme loss reported to Experian was for almost £59,000*


Notes to Editors:
* Statistics from Experian
** YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2003 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken in July 2010. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

ProtectMyID is provided by Experian Ltd. Registered No. England 653331.

About Experian:
Experian is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients in more than 90 countries. The company 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 by providing identity fraud protection, advice on ID fraud risks and identity fraud facts.

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 2010 was $3.9 billion.

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