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Identity thieves become social climbers with posher victims

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Wealthy, professional people are increasingly being targeted by identity thieves, credit rating agency Experian has warned.

Of the 2,124 people who used its helpline in 2006, company directors and businesspeople were the most common victims. Moreover, almost 50% of the victims had not realised that their identities had been misused until they were contacted by a financial services firm.

Experian also noted a trend towards organised criminals becoming involved in identity theft, rather than just opportunist thieves, with many of the victims discovering that their current addresses are being used rather than a previous one.

Jill Stevens of Experian said: “Those individuals most likely to fall victim will tend to use restaurants more often, spend more time in hotels and rent more cars.

“These organisations hold a huge amount of personal data, but may not necessarily have the levels of security that a large retail bank, for example, would have in place to safeguard information adequately.”

Much identity fraud takes place in and around London, which has a large population of wealthy people and upmarket addresses.

However, Experian warned that people living in rented flats were still the most vulnerable, with criminals easily able to pass themselves off as former tenants. “The opportunistic fraudster remains a very real threat to consumers,” said Stevens.



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