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How To Lose Your Identity

Identity Theft
Most individuals have no idea how easy it is for criminals to obtain their personal data without the need to even break into their homes. In public places, for example, criminals may engage in "shoulder surfing" watching you from a nearby location as you punch in your telephone calling card number or credit card number, or listen in on your conversation as you read out your credit-card number over the telephone in a hotel.  Cyber crimes can be committed by a number of other channels, for example logging into a WiFi which has been set up to simulate a name you are familiar with, but which is being monitored by a fraudster.

The area near Homes and Offices are typical ‘crime scenes’, criminals engage in "dumpster diving" or "bin raiding" which includes sifting through waste bins to obtain copies of cheques, credit card and bank statements, or other personal records that typically bear names, addresses, telephone numbers, passwords or even dates of birth.  More sophisticated ways might include fraudsters working in teams targeting a series of streets by mailing first with advanced warning of a Census and then arriving with fake credentials like letterheads, badges.

With this information it’s easy for criminals to gain control of bank accounts, apply for driving licences, credit cards, or even passports - and from there, assume your identity

As an example, if you receive applications for "pre-approved" credit cards, and discard them without destroying correctly it is easy for criminals to activate them without your knowledge. Credit card companies activate cards by asking for security questions like: Your Full Name, First Line of Your Address, Post Code, Mother’s Maiden Name, Telephone Numbers, Date of Birth etc.

With enough identifying information about an individual, a criminal will take over their identity to conduct a wide range of crimes - false applications for loans and credit or store cards, fraudulent withdrawals from bank accounts, fraudulent use of telephone calling cards, or by obtaining other goods and privileges which the criminal would be denied if they were to use their own identity.

Criminals can then very easily take steps to ensure that subsequent bills, invoices or bank statements showing the unauthorized withdrawals, are sent to an address other than the victim's. The victim will not become aware of what is happing until the criminal has already inflicted substantial damage on their assets, credit, and reputation.

In recent years, the Internet has become an appealing place for criminals to obtain identifying data including passwords and banking information. Many Individuals respond to ‘spam’ in the guise of unsolicited e-mails may be informing you that your bank account may have been compromised.
The email may ask you to log in and supply information like your bank account number, password, and pin number. What you do not know is that unwittingly you are supply the thief with all of the information required to access your real account and within minutes your bank account will be emptied!

Corporate Fraud
With current economic conditions worsening, and business becoming extremely difficult and far more competitive, it is not surprising that individuals are resorting to the most devious means to gain an edge: GSM Monitoring - Email / Internet Monitoring - Radio Monitoring - Voice Bugging - Video Surveillance - Fax Duplication - Data encryption.... The list goes on and on and crimes are committed daily in most organisations

Either by the most advanced means like an “audible bugging system” that can pinpoint a single conference room and monitor research and development plans, or very simply the unsophisticated theft of paperwork from desks by cleaning staff throughout the night.
If you fall into any of the following categories it is imperative that you take time to assess the specific impact of a loss of sensitive information and how it would affect you personally, as you are could be being targeted at this very moment.

These categories may include: Defence, International Relations, Security and Intelligence, Public Order, Public Safety and Law Enforcement, Trade, Economics and Public Finance, Public Services, Critical National, Infrastructure (CNI), Personal / Citizen.

There are many reported incidents of paper theft – a copy of a draft tender response can be very useful to a competitor or simply very embarrassing if medical details of staff were to leak. The Golden Rule is to NEVER ALLOW CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION TO LEAVE YOUR PREMISES IN A READABLE FORMAT UNLESS BY A SECURE APPROVED PROVIDER.

UK Data Protection Act 1998
‘Businesses and Individuals have a Legal responsibility through current Legislation to protect Staff and are may be liable to a fine or even imprisonment if the appropriate principles are simply ignored’

A summary of the Data Protection Act 1998
The Data Protection Act sets out eight protection principles which form the legislative framework and with which a data controller must comply.

1st: Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully.

2nd: Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes.

3rd: Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed.

4th: Personal data shall be accurate and where necessary, kept up to date.

5th: Personal data processed for any purpose shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose.

6th: Personal data shall be processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects under the Act.

7th: Appropriate technical and organizational measures shall be taken against unauthorized or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of or damage to personal data.

8th: Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area…

IMPORTANT - Interpretation of the 7th principle: The Seventh Principle of the Act states that "appropriate technical and organizational measures" must be taken to protect personal data, and gives advice on appropriate security measures. The question of security controls to be considered is… "Is printed material disposed of securely, for example by shredding?"
‘Breaches of this act may result in criminal proceeding against the Data Controller and the award of Financial Compensation to the Data Subject in respect of Personal Data which now includes data in a relevant filing system, and not just computers’

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