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Brits’ overloaded wallets leave them vulnerable to fraud

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

People are taking unnecessary risks by carrying several items containing sensitive personal information, according to Equifax.

A survey of more than 2,000 people by the credit reference agency found that nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of Brits carry at least two debit or credit cards in their purse or wallet, and nearly one in four (38 per cent) carry three or more cards.

Three in five people (60 per cent) carry a debit or credit card and their driving licence, making their purse or wallet “a prize draw” for fraudsters.

It takes just three key pieces of information to steal a person’s identity: their name, address and date of birth.

Driving licenses contain all the required information, so great swathes of the UK population are leaving themselves hugely vulnerable to becoming a victim of fraud, especially pertinent given the 11 per cent year-on-year rise in muggings reported by the Office for National Statistics.

Once someone’s identity is compromised, fraudsters will attempt to access the victim’s bank accounts, as well as potentially taking out loans, credit cards, and mobile phones contracts in their name.

Worryingly, 2 per cent of both 18 to 24-year-olds and 45 to 54-year-olds carry a list of passwords in their purse or wallet, with 1 per cent of the male population (more than 255,000 people) admitting to doing so.

Keith McGill, head of fraud at Equifax, said: “In an era where fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated methods, there’s a clear and present threat of identity theft for all of us. We can never truly eliminate the risk but by taking sensible measures, the level of threat can be greatly reduced.

“People are taking unnecessary risks by carrying items containing sensitive personal information such as driving licenses, National Insurance cards, and even written lists of passwords, making them walking targets for would-be fraudsters. We urge them to think carefully about what they take out with them on a day-to-day basis, and only carry what they really need.”