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78% Of New Zealanders Putting Themselves At Risk Of Identity Fraud

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
78% Of New Zealanders Putting Themselves At Risk Of Identity Fraud

New Zealanders have been urged to take action to protect themselves against identity fraud after a recent Newspoll survey found an alarming 78% of New Zealanders regularly throw away highly sensitive information such as utility bills, bank statements, expired credit cards and application forms, without shredding or disposing of them safely[1].

According to the survey, 75% of New Zealanders are concerned about identity fraud but continually put themselves at enormous risk[2], costing the New Zealand economy millions of dollars annually. It is no wonder 36% of all respondents surveyed believe it is likely they will become the victim of identity theft[3].

The findings coincide with the launch of National Identity Fraud Awareness Week (NIDFAW) which runs until Friday 15th October and aims to raise awareness of identity fraud. This year, leaders behind the initiative, Crimestoppers and Fellowes, with support from partners, are encouraging consumers to implement simple security measures to dramatically decrease the number of people who are affected each year.

NIDFAW spokesperson and Fellowes Marketing Manager Peter Campbell, said that whilst identity fraud is growing, many consumers and businesses aren't aware of the precautions that need to be taken.

"Households are simply not aware how much and how sensitive this information is that they are currently disposing of recklessly. 81% of New Zealanders believe that the level of identity theft has increased over the last 5 years[4], so we are urging the public to be more vigilant about destroying personal documents prior to throwing them in the bin," Mr. Campbell said.

"Consumers and business continue to leave highly confidential documents in easily accessible and unsecure places, such as rubbish or disposal bins and letterboxes. These documents that contain information such as bank/credit card details, addresses and tax file numbers provide fraudsters with a wealth of information. All it takes is a combination of a few key pieces such as name, date of birth and bank account details for the fraudsters to have the information they need to commit identity fraud. "Consumers need to take a more proactive approach towards tackling this problem. Implementing simple document security measures, like locking their letterbox or using a PO Box and shredding sensitive documents before they leave the house or office, can dramatically decrease risk and minimise potentially devastating losses," Mr. Campbell said.

New technology, 'smartphones' and social media have increased the number of sources from which we receive and process information making people more susceptible to identity theft. While online ID fraud is often overhyped, paper based fraud is still prevalent and the most common way for an identity to be stolen.

Of those surveyed by Newspoll, respondents aged between 50-64 years old were the most alarmed about identity theft, with 85% showing concern. Interestingly, 59% of New Zealanders do not have access to a paper shredder reinforcing the need for heightened awareness of the disposal of unsecure documents[5].

ABOUT NIDFAW National Identity Fraud Awareness Week is an international campaign that aims to educate consumers and businesses about the dangers of identity fraud/theft and the preventative steps that can be taken. It takes place annually around the globe in Europe, Asia, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

NIDFAW is an initiative of Fellowes, with support from partners, Crime Stoppers, Secure Identity and Veda Advantage, Australia Post - Post Office Boxes and Officeworks.

For more information on how to protect yourself from identity fraud, and how to cope if you are a victim of ID fraud, visit the official campaign website www.stopidtheft.co.nz or www.crimestoppers-nz.org for more information.

NIDFAW TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY

1. Protect your important and personal information by ensuring it is stored safely.

2. Reduce the risk of identity theft by shredding or destroying unwanted documents that contain sensitive information.

3. Check your account statements regularly and look for any unusual or unauthorized activity.

4. Subscribe to an ID theft protection/monitoring service such as Secure Identity that allows you to proactively monitor your credit file for fraudulent activity and be able to react swiftly should you become a target for ID theft

5. Contact your credit card company and banking institution before departing for travel, or your travel may prompt a block on your account.

6. Create passwords/PINS that are not easily associated with you including date of birth, phone number or age.

7. Use Internet banking sites with caution, be wary of and never provide banking details through unsolicited emails or phone calls.

8. Discuss the risks of identity fraud with your family, friends and colleagues and raise awareness of this growing issue.

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