29/04/2003

Research shows Data Protection fraud rising

Data Protection has become the latest focus for fraudsters, according to a survey from the Credit Services Association (CSA), a UK debt collections body.

In its annual survey of members, the CSA identified a series of data protection frauds affecting both businesses and consumers.

Data Protection joins a line-up of fraudulent activities, which includes favourites such as the Nigeria letter scam, current frauds involving invoices from Switzerland and Holland for fake business directories, and use of the internet to commit fraud by assuming other people¹s identities.

The survey highlighted how poor awareness and knowledge of the Data Protection Act is being used by one fraudster who uses "look-a-like" stationery, which appears to come from the register, and who promises to place businesses on the DP register for a £90 fee. The fee is actually £30, but the fraudster gives no detail of any administrative charges and in fact, registration (or re-registration) can be done directly with the Information Commissioner.

Small local businesses are now being targeted as well as personal investors, with the potential for serious damage to the UK economy a very real possibility. As well as small local businesses, variations of the much-publicised Nigeria letter scam are now being directed at churches and charities, according to CSA members. The email promises naive investors millions of pounds for depositing huge sums of money temporarily in their UK bank account.

Most recently, several members have reported their clients receiving invoices from Switzerland and Holland for taking entries into local business directories that are either subsequently never published or didn¹t exist in the first place.

"These are perhaps some of the more noteworthy scams and frauds that our members are made aware of and often have to deal with as part of their daily routine," explained Ken Waters, President of the CSA. "It means businesses and individuals have to be more vigilant than ever and remember the old cliché: If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!"

(CL)

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