While nine out of 10 people are aware of identity theft risks, eight out of 10 are easy pickings for fraudsters, with 87,000 people in this country already falling victim.
These statistics from Fellowes, as part of the National Fraud Prevention Week, show that eight out of 10 Irish people are routinely throwing personal information in the bin – an open door for ruthless data thieves to come and steal their identities.
The fraudsters can then assume their identity to obtain credit, goods or other services fraudulently.
Fellowes found that some 52pc of individuals do not check their financial statements and bills against receipts, and over two-thirds of people surveyed have thrown away bank statements, utility bills and even passwords without shredding them.
Shockingly, some 33pc of people do not immediately report the loss of a passport.
Fellowes Ireland spokesman Ciaran Dunne said that Irish people appear to be better at protecting their computers than their bins, with 84pc having installed security software on their machines.
“People spend thousands of euro protecting their homes against burglary – from top-of-the-range locks to lighting systems and alarms,” Dunne explained.
“However, this research shows that virtually everyone in the country is potentially throwing away their identity. Your identity is the most important thing you have, and people have got to stop being so complacent and start to put up a fight against identity fraud.
“People need to be more vigilant and follow the simple steps needed to help safeguard their identities. For example, they need to check their mail for unusual transactions, report missing post immediately, never give out information to people unless absolutely sure who they are and importantly, they need to shred anything they wouldn’t want in the hands of a stranger,” he warned.
Over 90pc of Irish people said they weren’t confident with how organisations handled their personal information.
Some 93pc of those surveyed said that the identities of customers and colleagues of their respective companies could be at risk of being acquired by fraudsters.
Over a third of Irish organisations do not have a comprehensive identity theft or protection policy, despite the view of 79pc of the survey’s respondents believing organisations should be doing more.
As part of the national drive, a new website has been set up.
By John Kennedy