Experian warns smartphone users to smarten up

From: Experian
Published: Thu Jan 13 2011

Experian has warned smartphone users may be risking the security of their identity if they store sensitive information on their phones and use unsecure WI-Fi networks to get online. This is according to new research by ProtectMyID, Experian's identity-protection service.

According to this latest research:
- Nearly two thirds (65%) of smartphone users send and store e-mails on their phones – even if these include sensitive information such as receipts and credit card details from shopping online.

- More than half (53%) of smartphone users access social networking sites from their phones. This could easily reveal key pieces of information like names, dates of birth and other details commonly used as passwords for online banking and other accounts, such as first school or place of birth.

- Nearly one third (29%) of smartphone users take advantage of public Wi-Fi hotspots (often found in city centres, used whilst having a break from the shops) which are unsecure and highly vulnerable to electronic eavesdroppers.

- Of these, one in five (19%) say they conduct online banking while using public WiFi, risking their accounts, PINs and passwords.

The Home Office found that mobile phone identity fraud, rose by three quarters (74%) in the first half of last year* but more than half of the smartphone users who took part in the Protect My ID survey were completely unaware of the problem.

"The personal information on an average smartphone is like gold dust to an ID thief and many of us could be putting this on a plate by using public Wi-Fi networks," said Peter Turner, Managing Director of Experian Interactive. "A criminal can use this information to masquerade as the phone's owner, drain his or her accounts, run up debts in their victim’s name and even open new accounts.

"Often, the first people know about it is when they receive a demand for payment for services they haven't used or for an account they have never heard of. We've certainly seen cases where criminals have changed the address of the smartphone, ordered new handsets and run up huge bills."

As many as 10,000 smartphones are also stolen every month, according to the Metropolitan Police**, so it really makes sense for users to take sensible identity protection precautions to keep their personal information safe.

Notes to editors:
*CIFAS: Fraudscape, 2010
** www.met.police.uk/crimeprevention/phone.htm

Key benefits of ProtectMyID.co.uk
- Continuous monitoring of Experian credit reports for signs of potential fraudulent activity
- Email or text alerts to user if a significant change is detected
- Full details of the activity with recommendations on next steps, all held on a secure personal account
- Access to dedicated caseworker for one-to-one help and advice
- Optional free fraud insurance of up to £75,000 (Provided by ARC, underwritten by AXA) to cover any fraud-resolution costs
- Option to apply for CIFAS Protective Registration for those at particular risk or already a victim of fraud.

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 identity fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and offers).

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. Experian employs approximately 15,000 people in 40 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; Costa Mesa, California; and São Paulo, Brazil.

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