POSTAL STATEMENTS LEAVE PUBLIC AT RISK FROM IDENTITY THEFT

Survey reveals that majority of people still receive bank statements through the post, leaving them at risk from rising cases of identity theft

14 February, 2006 - 70 per cent of people are now doing their banking online, but when it comes to receiving statements, 72 per cent prefer to receive their monthly bank statement via post and email or by post alone despite the growing threat from identity theft, according to a survey by Premiere Global Services (PGS).

The survey of 1,000 UK residents showed that 42 per cent of people still receive their bank statements in the post and a further 30 per cent receive them via email but have a second copy sent in the post, despite the fact that Royal Mail is currently facing a record £11.4m fine over lost and stolen mail. An investigation by regulatory body, Postcomm, revealed that more than 14 million letters were lost in 2005.

Identity theft is now the fastest growing crime in Britain, costing the UK £1.7billion each year, £72million of which is directly attributed to lost mail. A bank statement is a vital tool for any fraudster, revealing enough about a person, along with publicly available data such as the electoral roll and credit databases, for a criminal to do serious damage. The Home Office reports that stealing bank statements that arrive via post or retrieving those that are thrown out are the most common forms of identity theft. According to Experian, one in five bins contain enough information to steal an identity.

According to Javelin, customers who rely on paper statements to track account activity detect fraud 114 days after it occurred, compared to the average 18 days it takes for online or ATM users to notice a problem.

PGS’s UK general manager, Simon Bushell, commented: “Identity theft is clearly on the rise with the Home Office recording more than 100,000 reported cases every year. Having bank statements delivered via email is an obvious way of denying criminals access to financial information and because statements remain online, or are received electronically they can be filed securely on a PC or printed and filed locally.

“Banks should be encouraging more people to receive their financial records via email and investing in appropriate security. With today’s wealth of options, such as secure encryption, token authentication, multiple passwords and biometrics, there is no reason why email should not be adopted by a significant proportion of businesses and consumers for delivery of statements.”

Premiere Global Services’ Statement Manager service enables users to deliver financial statements via secure email, saving up to 85 per cent on postal costs and increasing the timeliness and security of sensitive financial information. The solution is already in use by at least one of the UK’s leading high street banks and several of its US clients.

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