Identity Theft Soars as Gangs Target Wealthy

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN PRYNN

IDENTITY theft has soared by two thirds so far this year, with Londonersmost likely to be targeted.

A report out today shows people living inside the M25 are almost four timesmore vulnerable than average.

The most targeted areas are wealthy neighbourhoods. In the worst hotspot,Kensington, the risk is five times higher.

The study, by credit rating agency Experian, found Wandsworth, Victoria andQueensway were the next most affected. All have affluent populations whofrequently use credit and other cards with high-spending limits, providing richpickings for gangs.

The areas also have many bars, hotels and restaurants, where there are easyopportunities for stealing identity details. In addition, Londoners are morelikely to live in large houses divided into flats, where it is easier forcriminals to intercept post, and they move more frequently, leaving a trail ofmisdirected letters and old addresses.

The report shows that across the country, cases of ID theft in the first halfof this year were 68 per cent higher than last year.

Although chip and pin has reduced card cloning, gangs have become moresophisticated in creating virtual identities that can be milked for cash.

The fastest growing trick involves having post from a bank or credit companyredirected to a "new" address where it is picked up by the fraudster. …