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Criminals target UK’s youth as cases of identity fraud increase

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has released new figures showing a 52% rise in young identity fraud victims in the UK. In 2015, just under 24,000 (23,959) people aged 30 and under were victims of identity fraud. This is up from 15,766 in 2014, and more than double the 11,000 victims in this age bracket in 2010.

The figures have been published on the same day as a new short film, entitled ‘Data to Go’, is launched online to raise awareness of this type of fraud. Shot in a London coffee shop in March this year, the film uses hidden cameras to capture baffled reactions from people caught in a stunt where their personal data, all found on public websites, is revealed to them live on a coffee cup.

Identity fraud happens when a fraudster pretends to be an innocent individual to buy a product or take out a loan in their name. Often, victims don’t even realise that they’ve been targeted until a bill arrives for something they didn’t buy or they experience problems with their credit rating.

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To carry out this kind of fraud successfully, fraudsters usually have access to their victim’s personal information such as name, date of birth, address, their bank details and information on who they hold accounts with. Fraudsters gain such detail in a variety of ways, including through hacking and data loss, as well as using social media to put the pieces of someone’s identity together. 86% of all identity frauds in 2015 were perpetrated online.

People of all ages can be at risk of identity fraud, but with growing numbers of young people falling victim, Cifas is calling for better education around fraud and financial crime.

Fraudsters are opportunists

Simon Dukes, CEO of Cifas, said: “Fraudsters are opportunists. As banks and lenders have become more adept at detecting false identities, so the fraudsters have instead focused on stealing and using genuine people’s details. Society, Government and industry all have a role to play in preventing fraud. However, our concern is that the lack of awareness about identity fraud is making it even easier for fraudsters to obtain the information they need.”

Dukes continued: “The likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online platforms are much more than just social media sites – they’re now a hunting ground for identity thieves. We’re urging people to check their privacy settings today and think twice about what information they share. Social media is fantastic, and the way we live our lives online gives us huge opportunities. Taking a few simple steps will help us to enjoy the benefits while reducing the risks. To a fraudster, the information we put online is a goldmine.”

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Commander Chris Greany, the City of London Police’s national co-ordinator for economic crime, added: “We’ve known for some time that identity fraud has become the engine that drives much of today’s criminality, and so it’s vitally important that people keep their personal information safe and secure. In the fight against fraud, education is key and it’s great that Cifas and its members are taking identity fraud seriously and working together to raise awareness of how the issue is now increasingly affecting young people through the launch of this film.”

As part of the campaign, Cifas commissioned a survey with Britain Thinks to find out more about 18-24 year olds’ attitudes towards personal data and identity fraud. The survey found that young people are alarmingly unaware that they’re at risk:

  • Only 34% of 18-24 year olds say they learned about online security when they were at school
  • 50% of the 18-24 year olds surveyed believe they would never fall for an online scam (compared to the national average of 37%)
  • Only 57% of 18-24 year olds report thinking about how secure their personal details are online (compared to 73% for the population as a whole)

They’re also less likely to install anti-virus software on their mobile phone than the national average (27% compared to 37%).

Organisations such as the City of London Police, Action Fraud, Get Safe Online, Her Majesty’s Government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign, Financial Fraud Action UK and Cifas members including Coventry Building Society, BT and Secure Trust Bank are all supporting the campaign and sharing the new film across their social media networks.

Cifas is also appealing to youth organisations, schools and universities to share the film so it reaches as many young people as possible.

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Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service keeps public informed thanks to CrowdControlHQ’s social media platform

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is using a social media risk management and compliance platform from CrowdControlHQ to monitor and govern its corporate social media accounts including Twitter and Facebook. More than 30 users across the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service access corporate social media accounts via the platform’s central dashboard.

There has been an increase in engagement witnessed across all accounts in the last two years which has seen the number of Twitter followers double to over 17,000.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service uses social media for two-way communication with residents and county stakeholders, including other Fire and Rescue Services and local Government officials businesses as well as schools in the area.

CrowdControlHQ was selected for the central management of the Fire and Rescue Service’s social media activity following research and a presentation from the company.

Caroline Jones, digital and media services manager at Cheshire Fire and Rescue, explained: “We chose CrowdControlHQ for the level of control and analytics that the company’s solution provides. We wanted a platform where we could allow multiple people to post to corporate accounts. CrowdControlHQ does that safely and securely and it gives a history of all activity, for example who has posted to what and where. Information like that is important for audit purposes.”

Management from a single point

Using CrowdControlHQ makes it possible to manage corporate social media accounts from a single point. Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service chose to have just one account for each social media channel rather than each fire station or areas of the service posting to individual accounts. This means it’s easier for the public and other stakeholders to receive updates by finding, following and commenting on corporate accounts rather than multiple social media accounts for different fire stations across the region.

Jones continued: “Social media is a great way to communicate with the public. Where there are incidents throughout the day it’s really easy, thanks to the central control in CrowdControlHQ, to publish a Tweet or post a message on Facebook and to then plan Tweets for the weekend. Recently, in just 28 days we had 437,000 impressions and posted 168 Tweets. The management team takes social media very seriously and fully supports it as a communications channel.”

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service also promotes other Fire and Rescue Services’ campaigns and champions national safety initiatives such as the annual road safety campaign using Twitter and Facebook, with links to a web page. CrowdControlHQ is used to plan Tweets and posts in advance and then measure the success of campaigns using the analytics generated.

James Leavesley, CEO at CrowdControlHQ, commented: “We have seen a variety of social media strategies emerging across Emergency Services providers tasked to drive communications objectives. For some, the emphasis is on single channel or multi-responders while others may adopt a multi-channel or in some cases a partnership-style approach.  However, what consistently underpins all the strategies we see is the need for more brand representatives to become involved in delivering messages to the public, raising the reputation risks associated with delivering complex public engagement. Using a risk and compliance platform gives organisations the confidence that they can manage and respond to social media communications effectively, consistently and in a timely manner.”

About Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

The Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is led by the Chief Fire Officer and the Service Management Team.  It has 25 fire stations, four community safety centres, three community fire protection offices and a headquarters based in Winsford.

The Fire and Rescue Service responds to emergency incidents – known as Emergency Response (ER)  – across the four unitary council areas of Halton, Warrington, Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester.

*For more information visit: www.cheshirefire.gov.uk

About CrowdControlHQ

CrowdControlHQ is one of the UK’s leading social media risk management and compliance platforms built for enterprise. It’s web-based software used by public and commercial organisations to support employees wishing to optimise their social media engagement delivery.

CrowdControlHQ provides tiered access and specialist control features to help manage the reputation risk associated with the delivery of social media in complex, multi-user, multi-campaign and generally busy customer service environments.

It’s a venture capital-backed British business servicing over 125 clients with over 10,000 users. Clients include Experian, Serco, Welsh Water, the Greater Manchester Police and Arriva.

*Additional information is available at: www.crowdcontrolhq.com

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Office of Surveillance Commissioners issues warning over social media snooping

The Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC), led by Chief Surveillance Commissioner The Rt Hon Sir Christopher Rose, has published its Annual Report for 2013-2014. Emma Carr (director of Big Brother Watch) highlights some of the main points.

*Intrusive surveillance authorisations have increased from 362 to 392
*Directed surveillance by law enforcement agencies (LEAs) has increased from 9,515 to 9,664
*Directed surveillance by public authorities (PAs) has decreased from 5,827 to 4,412
*Active LEA covert human intelligence sources: 4,377 were authorised, 3,025 remain authorised
*Active covert human intelligence sources (non-LEA): 53 were authorised

The Commissioner notes that the information included in the 2013-2014 Annual Report is for 100% of LEAs and 96.6% of all other PAs. However, Sir Christopher Rose notes: “I am once again slightly disappointed that a few public authorities appear to treat my request for statistical returns as an option” and that: “I have therefore decided that, as from next year, those public authorities which have failed to respond within the set deadline will be named in my Annual Report.”

The Commissioner also raises the fact that there have been a number of occasions where senior officers have failed to meet with inspectors. These comments would therefore indicate that among some LEA and PAs there’s a potential problem of the OSC not being taken seriously.

The Commissioner also notes that, since the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 was introduced, there has been a “downward trend” in the number of applications made and authorisations granted which “may or may not be attributable to this enactment.”

Emma Carr: director of Big Brother Watch

Emma Carr: director of Big Brother Watch

The Commissioner raises concerns about the lack of a common approach from councils towards the authorising process now that it’s controlled by Magistrates. He goes on to warn that “the knowledge and understanding of RIPA among magistrates and their staff varies widely.” The Commissioner notes that there’s certainly a need for “adequate training or magistrates” and their colleagues.

Worryingly, the Commissioner cites two examples of inappropriate authorisations: one having granted approval for activity retrospectively, and another having signed a formal notice despite it having been erroneously completed by the applicant with details of a different case altogether.

Social media and covert investigations

One of the most interesting sections of the report relates to the use of social media for covert investigations by PAs. The Commissioner states that he “strongly” advises all public bodies to put in place proper policies designed to deal with social media investigations due to a lack of demonstrable understanding of the law from some workers involved in investigations.

The report states that: “In cash-strapped public authorities, it might be tempting to conduct online investigations from a desktop as this saves time and money and often provides far more detail about someone’s personal lifestyle, employment and associates, etc, but just because one can does not mean one should.”

While long overdue, the Commissioner is absolutely right to acknowledge that many PAs around the country may well be covertly gathering intelligence from social media sites on an illegal basis.

RIPA 2000 was created while Google was still in its infancy and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. It would therefore be ridiculous to expect that the legislation would allow the use of the Internet to proportionately investigate crimes while ensuring that safeguards are in place to protect the public’s privacy.

A far more open discussion about what data should be monitored – as well as whether the legal framework is truly fit for the digital age – is now required.

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