UK Consumers Apathetic to Fraud

By | August 3, 2005

Survey results Unisys Corporation launched today reveal that UK consumers´ apathetic attitude to fraud could be helping to perpetuate the rapidly growing identity theft industry, which is now estimated to be costing UK businesses GBP 1.3 billion per year.

The independent study, commissioned by Unisys, surveyed 1,000 UK households to investigate the incidence of and attitudes towards financial fraud. The findings revealed that more than one in 10 UK consumers (11 percent) have now been the victims of fraud.

Despite these statistics, 61 percent of respondents stated that they have no concerns about the safety of their money kept in their bank or building society. The survey followed a similar study Unisys conducted of U.S. consumers in August 2004, which found that only 49 percent of U.S. respondents were not worried about their money.

The research reveals that despite the high incidence of identity theft, most consumers are not interested in proactively helping to manage the risk of fraud. Fifty-eight percent of respondents surveyed admitted that they had no desire to be educated about banking security or fraud protection. Fifty percent of consumers would not switch their bank or building society to obtain better security or protection.

Consumers also showed low levels of interest for additional security services. Sixty-six percent of respondents declined when asked if they would pay for better fraud protection. When asked what they personally can do to help protect their identity and prevent card fraud, the most frequent response was to destroy personal information, such as bank statements, more carefully (80 percent).

The banks and building societies appear to be doing little to overcome consumer apathy, with three out of four consumers (73 percent) claiming that they had never received personal contact to discuss potential fraud alerts or to verify transactions. When asked if they were aware of the security phenomenon “phishing,” only 9 percent of consumers had heard about “phishing” from their bank or building society.

Commenting on the findings, Nigel Moden, Retail Banking Partner at Unisys, explains, “UK consumers appear to be happy to continue banking blindly, regardless of the threat of identity theft. This laissez-faire attitude not only encourages increasingly audacious and industrial-scale fraud but also translates into millions of pounds being stolen each year from customers in the UK. At the moment, consumer self interest and the interest of the banks is not aligned, as the financial risk largely rests with the financial institutions. The real challenge and opportunity is for the banks to better combat fraud before it happens through improved fraud detection technology. At the same time, there needs to be a renewed commitment to effective consumer security education, with the financial institutions potentially incentivising consumers to join the fight against fraud.”

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