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Data theft: don't be an IDiot

Today we learnt again that UK PC users remain in blissful ignorance of the dangers of identity fraud, with an idiotic 79 percent of users casually tossing away their data. When will people get it?

There are dozens of ways ID fraudsters target consumers, but stealing post from communal hallways, going through the bins and using mail which has not been redirected after a move are a couple of the easiest. It beats duping consumers into disclosing personal details online, which requires some intelligence, after all. But still we live in fear of internet fraud, and chuck away information in the recycling.

Of course, ID fraudsters need more than a single piece of information or documentation to steal an identity (and lots of moolah). But if you're not carefully disposing of your driving licence, passport, wage slip or utility bills, a nasty criminal needs only a couple of further bits of data to swipe your cash. And, given how eager everyone is these days to post their lives on to social-networking sites, such data isn't that hard to find.

Not content with topping the league tables for ill health, Irn Bru consumption and deep-fat frying, the fine Scots city of Glasgow is the UK's number one for ID fraud stupidity.

Glaswegians fared worst in this week's study, released to coincide with the UK's third National Identity Fraud Prevention Week. According to the ID fraud survey, a massive 82 percent of Glasgae households dispose of material that could be used by a fraudster.

But before shandy-drinking southern softies get too cocky, the residents of the trendy borough of Wandsworth in southwest London weren't far behind. No fewer than 74 percent of the beautiful people disposed of material that contained sensitive material. So north and south, people are still being dullards with their own information.

Indeed, even in the spots where ID fraudsters endure the slimmest pickings - in this case Birmingham and Cardiff - more than two-thirds of people dole out the good stuff to crims.

The bottom line? No-one deserves to be a victim, and if someone steals your identity you've been unlucky and feel sorry for yourself. But you can avoid it altogether. Simply dispose of your data carefully, and you'll let someone else bear the brunt.

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