Police back national campaign as cybercrime shows worrying 27 per cent surge in first quarter of 2015

Police have urged men to stay safe online

Police have urged men to stay safe online - Credit: Archant

Police in Herts and Beds are adding their weight to a national awareness campaign encouraging people to protect their personal information.

The Not With My Name campaign is targeting identity crime, which is estimated to have affected one in four UK adults - more than 12 million people. On average victims lose £1,200 each, and total losses in the UK are estimated at £3.3 billion.

The first quarter of 2015 saw a 27 per cent surge in identity fraud, and the average age of a victim was 46. Men are 1.7 times more likely than women to have their identity stolen.

Victims often find that money has been removed from their bank or their account has been taken over, a fraudulent passport or driving licence has been created in their name, or loans, mortgages and mobile phone contracts have been set-up using their identity.

Hertfordshire’s police and crime commissioner David Lloyd said: “Identity fraud is one of the most common and financially damaging forms of cybercrime, effecting individuals and businesses alike.

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“I have made tackling cybercrime one of my key policing priorities, to ensure we have a robust and effective strategy for protecting everyone in the county from this type of crime.

“In Hertfordshire we now have a team of specialist officers who are focussed on catching cyber criminals and keeping our residents safe. They work in partnership with the National Crime Agency and other forces to ensure that cyber criminals are tracked down and stopped wherever they may be operating from.”

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Det Insp Yvonne Lewis from the cyber and fraud investigation unit said: “Everyone should be aware of identity crime and take precautions to protect themselves against it. Criminals will go to great lengths to get hold of your personal details so don’t make it easy for them.

“As well as taking simple precautions such as shredding mail, you should also ensure that your digital data is secure. Always keep your security software up to date and make sure you have anti-virus software activated on all your devices. Also if you use banking or other apps to access credit accounts, make sure you keep your phone or other mobile device locked at all times using a pin or passcode.

“In most cases of identity crime, criminals are able to access data because someone has not kept details secure - taking a few basic precautions can prevent you becoming a victim and could save you thousands of pounds.”

The Not With My Name campaign will be highlighting advice focused on helping people protect their personal information. This will include pointers on creating safe passwords, protecting internet devices, dealing with unsolicited phone calls and emails, and safely storing and disposing of mail.

These messages will be shared across the country, with the campaign being supported by 35 local police forces and organisations that include Get Safe Online, Cifas, FFA UK, Age UK and Experian.

Individuals and businesses which fallen victim to a fraud linked to identity crime should report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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