A third (30%) of UK adults have admitted to using something personal, such as their date of birth, maiden name or home address to create their password, much of which is easily accessible online. Almost half (44%) said they rarely or never change their online password – further increasing the risk.
The findings also show that, when it comes to protecting their information on mobile devices, many Britons are leaving the door wide open to fraudsters. Four in 10 (37%) don’t password-protect their mobile devices and less than one in ten (9%) are concerned that their online security could be compromised by cybercriminals through mobile apps, many of which hold vast amounts of personal data.
The Experian research shows a trend that as awareness of data breaches increases, so do people’s expectations of organisations to safeguard their personal information. This may be part of the reason many are falling behind in protecting their own information from fraudsters. 77% now believe it is the responsibility of organisations to ensure they are well protected online, almost twice as many as in 2012 (40%).
Amir Goshtai, Managing Director at Experian says: “Whilst most of us take the necessary steps to protect our homes from burglars, not everyone is taking the same care to protect their possessions online. We wouldn’t use one key for all the doors and windows in our home – and most of us wouldn’t leave a key in the front door so anyone could get in. So we encourage people to think of their ‘21st century keys’ in the same way – things like the passwords we use to secure the doors to our personal information online.”
Experian has partnered with the City of London Police to encourage people to review their ‘21st Century Locks’ to protect information from the growing threat of online identity theft.
City of London Police’s John Unsworth, who is the Deputy National Police Coordinator, said: “Protecting your personal information, be it through having secure passwords, not responding to unsolicited emails, not making too much information available on social media accounts or having internet security software for your electronic devices, is vital in this day and age. By taking these relatively simple steps we can all make life much more difficult for the cyber fraudsters that are continually looking to prey upon weaknesses on our online set-up so they can access and exploit our personal and financial details.”
“The findings suggest that many people are relying solely on organisations to protect their personal information. However, cyber-criminals are continuing to set the pace, so it’s essential that both organisations and people take responsibility to do everything they can to protect people’s personal information online,” Amir Goshtaicontinued.
Five tips from Experian and the City of London Police to protect your information online:
1. Online Passwords: While it may seem overwhelming, it is crucial to have secure, unique passwords for as many online accounts as possible. Avoid using words from the dictionary; consider using the first letter of each word in a sentence instead, and a mixture of lower and upper case letters and numbers.
2. Double-lock: Always use a home screen lock on your mobile devices. Be smart with your smartphone and be aware of the vast amounts of information that can be stored – including emails and apps that can be accessed without a password from your home screen.
3. On the move: Be conscious of the information you share when using shared WiFi networks, which can be compromised more easily by fraudsters than secure networks.
4. Security first: Before sharing personal information online, particularly card and other financial details, check that the website is secure. The web address should be preceded by “https:” and a padlock symbol.
5. Credit Wise: Fraudsters operate to make money and one of the first places people notice that their information has fallen in to the wrong hands is by spotting if credit has been applied for under false pretences. Monitor your credit report and bank statements regularly as it will help you spot any suspicious activity as early as possible to avoid financial loss
People who think they may have become a victim of identity theft should notify the police and contact their bank. Experian's Victims of Fraud service is also available free to Experian customers and has a dedicated team of fraud resolution experts to help investigate and resolve suspected fraud as quickly as possible.