Ten per cent of UK households are vulnerable to identity fraud, research data reveals.
The research – conducted by credit reference agency Experian and Camden Council – shows that one in ten households have discarded a full credit card number, expiry date and signature. And that's enough to allow someone to rip those households off.
Bin raiding, in which fraudsters search through bins for personal information to help them commit crimes, is growing at a "phenomenal rate" in the UK, the report claims. Fraudsters are paying up to £5 for bank statements or utility bills. 70,000 people were defrauded against last year alone.
And it's not just domestic households who must become more wary about what they put in the trash. Waste from commercial organizations also contained large amounts of discarded personal and financial information, about both themselves and their customers.
In one startling example, a mortgage broker was found to have thrown out complete mortgage applications containing full financial details of its clients; in another a theatrical agent was found to have discarded names, addresses and phone numbers of celebrities. Perhaps most terrifying was the Camden travel agent who threw away photocopies of passports with numbers, dates of birth and photos attached.
The numbers make grim reading – unless you commit fraud. 44 per cent of commercial organizations threw away whole invoices; 41 per cent threw away financial invoices, 21 per cent trashed customer details and 32 per cent threw away official documents – all with no attempt at destruction.