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Identity theft initiative

A Yorkshire-based charity, People United Against Crime (PUAC), will lead a consortium of organisations from Germany, Portugal and Finland to help the citizens of Europe protect themselves from identity theft.

The funding from Europe will allow Sheffield-based PUAC and its partners to develop a number of tactics to prevent people giving away critical private data that, when it falls into the hands of cybercriminals, enables fraud and a series of related crimes. The initiative called VISIT – Victim Support for Identity Theft – will begin in September 2014 and run for two years. VISIT will develop an online training package in a variety of languages to help individuals across Europe protect their identity from criminals, hopefully leading to a reduction in identity related crime.

An individual’s identity is stolen in many ways, the charity says. Social engineering, hacking, malicious software, phishing, skimming credit cards and bin raiding are all techniques adopted by criminals to steal the separate elements that make up a unique identity.

David Ransom, Chief Executive of People United Against Crime said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with key organisations across Europe to tackle a crime which is becoming an increasing threat to individuals and businesses. Frankly we have much to do, many people have little idea of how exposed their private and sensitive information is. A person’s identity has become a key enabler for 21st century crime.”

Research shows that, on average, it takes an individual seven months to realise their identity had been stolen. This is 213 days where a criminal can use an identity fraudulently to commit a variety of different crimes.

In 2013 CIFAS – the UK’s fraud prevention service – reported that almost 130,000 individuals had their identity stolen and that 60% of confirmed frauds could be related to identity crime. Visit: www.people-united.org.


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