By Maximilian Clarke

As National Identity Fraud Prevention Week gets underway, businesses and consumers are more aware than ever of the need for prudence in their online activities.

But this increased awareness of the dangers posed by careless online behaviour is risking a surge in more traditional methods of fraud, as Christian Toon, Head of Information Security Europe at Iron Mountain, explains:

“Many people’s concerns around identity fraud revolve around the risks from the digital world — for example, phishing attacks and information being stolen online. While this is a real danger, many overlook the threat of paper. Too often critical business documents and valuable information assets are treated as waste — as proven by Oliver Letwin last week when he was photographed dumping private letters and government papers in a park bin. In a business environment, documents find themselves being left by the company photocopier or in the bin, straight into the hands of a fraudster.

“The biggest threat is often external. For example, the ICO recently prosecuted a former personal injury employee from Direct Assist for illegally obtaining patient records from his girlfriend Dawn Makin, a nurse at Prestwich and Moorgate Primary Care walk in centre. But it’s not always intentional — many people will admit to printing business documents to take home, then disposing of them in their own bin. Whether it is with malicious intent or not, documents find their way out of the business and the fact that information must be appropriately destroyed is forgotten.

“Businesses must create a perimeter fence to ensure the secure destruction of paper records and prevent them getting into the wrong hands. Controls and policies must be implemented, then all staff, at all levels, must be educated. While no information management system is fool proof, companies — and employees - must take action to reduce the risk of identity fraud as far as possible.”

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