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Two-thirds of UK employees risk workplace identity theft

It seems harmless enough, a work colleague of yours asks you a few simple questions about yourself or what you did at the weekend. Before long they know if you have any children, if you’re single or married, where you like to go and what you like to do. But there’s nothing wrong with this, after all you’re a team all pulling in the same direction. In fact, you may go so far as to share workplace passwords. You may even leave your purse or wallet on you desk while you quickly run off to the toilet. All the time, you are leaving yourself open to identity theft that could cost thousands of pounds.

A recent survey poll by CPP, the UK leading life assistance organisation , found that two-thirds of us are happy to leave personal items such as mobile phone, handbags, purses and wallets around our office while we going about our daily business. Trust is so important to us Brits in the workplace that “we all like to think our secrets are safe with out colleagues”, as Owen Roberts, Head of Identity Protection at CPP said.

The realty, however, is much different. Identity theft in the UK workplace has never been easier. Moreover, the levels of UK identity theft originating in the workplace is on a steady increase, with Owen Roberts saying that “the rise in identity theft is relentless”.

As such, the time has now come for UK employees to start taking workplace identity theft very seriously. As precautionary measures, you should never leave your purse, handbag or wallet lying around the office if you have debit or credit cards inside. You should definitely not tell you colleagues what your PIN is to any of your cards. Similarly, you should try to avoid keeping personal financial information on your workplace computer, especially if this computer can be accessed by other members of staff at your workplace. Where possible, if you are talking with your UK credit card provider or bank, you should try to avoid giving out financial information over the phone if any of your work colleagues can overhear what is being said.

In addition, you should always treat your work colleagues the same way you would with anyone when it comes to protecting your identity if you want to ensure that you don’t run the risk of finding out that someone has been using your credit cards or bank account to siphon off thousands of pounds on a nice spending spree.

None of which is to say that you should not necessarily trust your work colleagues or be cordial and polite, but you do need to exercise the same level of caution whether you are in your own home or in your workplace.

Richard Smith
25th October 2006


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