Nine out of 10 firms put customer data at risk

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Nine out of 10 firms put customer data at risk
Over 90 per cent of UK firms are putting their customers at risk of identity fraud, according to the results of a study released today to mark National Identity Fraud Prevention Week.

The event is aimed at advising consumers and businesses on best practice for preventing ID theft. The survey highlighted that, in many cases, consumers blame companies for any problems, and not their own housekeeping.

The report, commissioned by Fellowes for National Identity Fraud Prevention Week, found that 97 per cent of UK consumers are not completely confident that the organisations they deal with are taking adequate steps to protect their information.

Worse still, 92 per cent of employees at the firms in question confessed that the identity of their customers could be stolen by a fraudster, while 75 per cent admitted that their employers could be doing more to prevent fraud.

The report authors said that their research found a remarkably complacent attitude towards the security of personal data.

Fifty-six per cent of UK employees think that sensitive documents could be stolen from desks, 53 per cent think that filing cabinets could be rifled by light fingered crooks, and 63 per cent said that computer systems could also be open to fraudsters.

One in 10 workers admitted to putting personal customer information straight into rubbish bins.

Tyron Hill, official spokesperson for the ID fraud event, said: "British businesses and organisations have a duty to help drive the fight against ID fraud.

"There is no excuse for continually putting employees and customers at risk. It is critical that organisations ensure that sensitive and confidential data is managed safely and securely."

The organisers have drafted in BBC presenter Adrian Chiles to help encourage best practice among companies, but the event is also supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Home Office, Equifax and Experian.

"Britain's businesses have come a long way in protecting employees and customers from ID fraud," said Chiles.

"Yet while many have introduced stringent identity fraud prevention policies, more than a fifth of businesses in the UK still don't have comprehensive strategies in place."

The National Identity Fraud Prevention Week site has a wealth of information for businesses and consumers concerned about the security of their data, and Chiles recommended that they pay heed to it.

"This week is the time to listen and to act on the advice being offered," he said. "I hope everyone takes note of the simple steps that can be taken to protect their identities so we can stop handing our identities to fraudsters on a plate."

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