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- So you're Ian Hislop eh! -
It's here today; it's a fact of life. In fact over 800 data-bases have your personal details without your say so and are available to cyber fraudsters at anytime. It's not fair and everyone is a sitting duck. It hasn't become 'if' it has become 'when' I will have this problem. TK Max credit card manufactures had fraudsters working behind the scenes within the branches around the UK and still (after 16 months) trying to get to the bottom of this mass scale of fraudulent credit card activity. The media have had to put a lid on the amount of exposure because of the scale of this mass corruption; otherwise the economic damage due to this would be out of control. It all started by huge electronic databases being sold to marketing gurus for a lump sum; then to increase revenue further the details are then sold to other marketing businesses for a higher stake, and this goes on and on.
In 2001 -2003 lots of UK based marketing businesses got amazing financial rewards for being 'taken-over' by American mosaic business giants. It was their job to run the UK businesses down to a non-functional enterprise - many people in these fields lost their jobs. Where did all those databases go? All that information - Well, it's not safe put it this way. It's not in high voltage safes or in Alcatraz, but available to anyone who wants it, the reason why is because it is digitalised, available online through dormant business addresses; still being bought, re-sold time and time again. What makes this even worse now is that you don't even have to be a professional computer hacker anymore to get access to many of these files (of real people). Companies House actually gives away this information for small fee of £1.00, without any checks or proof of identity; all you need is an email address. In the small print you do read that they hold themselves not liable for anything thereafter; it is a perfect climate for fraudster activity. All this and this isn't even touching on the main net for fraud activity being social chat rooms and networking sites; let alone the fraudster's friend being the high street bank. Financial documents left out on street corners un-shredded; a Christmas present for any fraudster.
All of us sadly walk in a dreamy bubble when it comes to identity theft. All kinds of variations of my name has littered my doormat and I only have a '4' letter sir name. Problems lie with mail order companies and banks mainly. It is natural to laugh it off - oh yes, it's worth a laugh over the cornflakes; but if you ask yourself why is this occurring so often it is because somewhere your identity is being used. It is not just a database error. This is evidence of fraudulent activity. It doesn't matter how careful you are yourselves, it's the means in which marketing companies buy and sell their databases that is the main issue; in my view they require stricter working practices, vetting, and frequent regulators to stop modern day fraudulent behaviour and patterns.
This is not a nice thought when you're sipping your cocoa at night; wandering what else will appear on the doorstep; what else is there to resolve. What have I apparently been signed up to? Who the heck are these guys? How did they get my details?
For individuals who use the internet for work and socialising this are also very rich pickings for the fraudster.
Social networking sites connect and entertain millions of people of all ages, all round the world - but, according to recent news reports, the highly detailed personal profiles on these well-known sites are a gift for identity fraudsters.
Recent reports have expressed concerns with sites such as - Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Friends Reunited, as they have a fest of information for fraudsters. A couple of week ago a joke was made by Ian Hislop on 'Have I got news for you'; that a friend of his had been conversing with someone on Facebook, pretending to be Ian Hislop. How easy it is. Ian Hislop then joked 'it just shows how very sad and desperate these peoples' lives are - by pretending to be me!' Funny! Yes it maybe is, but it's a hive of information to the fraudster just the same.
Now the sites have links on fraud prevention that lists simple precautions that can help protect your identity without spoiling your fun. The problem is it warns the fraudsters and allows them to counteract with different criminal tactics. I even question why these sites require your full name, postal address and postcode. It is completely unnecessary. That is all you need for a fraudster. Think again when signing up to these types of sites, you are literary handing an opportunity for a fraudster on a plate. Be wary on what kind of information you are publishing to millions online.
Be careful how much information you give away. Many people give their full names, e-mail address, contact numbers, and date of birth, plus intimate details such as pet names and mother's or wife's maiden name - everything a fraudster would need to steal your identity and make a good guess at the passwords that are meant to protect your bank and credit card accounts. By uploading pictures of the family and typing in the names of pets, your favourite films, you are handing a fraudster the key to your finances. The subject of fraud and finance leads me to unsavoury means of corporate advertising by Experian, these are the people who log all your credit history and credit lending activity. Experian have used the 'fraudulent card' on many individuals. Experian are saying; "Please check your credit history to see if there are any fraudulent activity". The fact that you have to pay to see it is very devious. Then you have to pay £5.99 every month. I would like to think that Experian would be able to warn individuals of any suspicious fraudulent activity themselves, especially as they decide on the credit decision; but I fear that would be a little too much to ask for a 'cash cow' business like Experian. Don't fall for this advertising. If, you are concerned write a letter to Experian including any DDM (Direct Debit Mandate) information regards to lenders you are currently using; and get Experian to run around you, without paying for a monthly subscription.
It is important to be very cautious about how much information you give away even when on the phone in a bank or in a Customer Service centre, most of the information that the UK public has to hand over via a Customer Support centre or to a finance service is not required. It comes under an old-fashion company policy that this information is required for security; but whose security? It certainly is not the UK publics'. These company policies /regulations will change in a few years as new guidelines will be introduced to solve at least 40% of fraud. Sadly, most people still feel that by stating their, Date Of Birth or Post code is not deemed as a problem over the phone, regardless of whom is receiving the information. Under the Data Protection Act 2000 nobody requires to give out that information. Many data survey businesses are not too be trusted, if you receive a call please refrain from answering any questions and ask where they have received your contact from - 9/10 it is from marketing giant Jigsaw; again not to be trusted.
Lastly, the Data Protection Act 2000 is there to protect every UK citizen against these private intrusions. Fraud is on the increase, it is not going to go away overnight. Because of this vast subject matter, I will be reviewing Cyber Fraud part II - based on Phishing connections with major internet retail brands and the new fad of internet hijacking.