Organised Crime and Identity Fraud
We have all heard of the term Organised Crime and are aware of how such crime works. But a great many of us are unaware of just how those operating within the shadowy world of Organised Crime are using our identities and personal details to defraud individuals and the business community in the United Kingdom out of millions of pounds every year.
What is Organised Crime and How Does it Work?Organised crime can best be described as a group of individuals working together in order to commit an offence which is illegal and also which will involve the physical or electronic theft or money or information from members of the general public.
For many years Organised Crime has been viewed as groups of shadowy figures operating under the umbrella of larger criminal organisations and taking their lead from an individual reminiscent of the sort of gangster depicted in television and feature films. Sadly this could not be further from the truth and the general public are faced with the possibility that someone sitting next to them on public transport or working alongside them could be an operative for such an organisation.
Organised criminals commit crimes on a much larger scale that an individual would and as a result they have resources - both in terms of manpower and finances - that far outweigh those of your average criminal. The end product of this is far more sophisticated and costly crimes committed against society.
Organised Crime can be anything from armed robbery to large scale theft through to the more sophisticated - and more common - identity fraud.
Organised Crime and Identity FraudThe first thing to take into consideration regarding Organised Crime is that those involved in it are not recognisable in the way they might be in fiction. These individuals are masters - and indeed mistresses - of manipulating those around them and can go undiscovered for a long time. And even at the point of discovery they can simply vanish from plain sight only to re-establish themselves in another locale.
In the last decade Organised Crime has begun to embrace new technologies such as those used by banking institutions and as a result there has been an upsurge in such crimes as credit card fraud and obtaining money by deception.
Indeed the threat of such crimes is so great now that banking institutions and credit card companies now employ specialist departments detailed with the task of trying to prevent such fraud before it occurs.
Identity fraud has now become common place for criminal gangs and they will use such methods as 'Skimming' (the production of a false ATM machine front in order to collate credit and debit card details) and 'Online Fraud' (hacking into websites that deal solely with the purchase of goods on the Internet).
Many criminal groups will now try - where possible - to retrieve as much information about their intended victims as they can and this can include rifling through rubbish bins in an attempt to find documents containing names, addresses and bank details.
Combating Identity FraudThere are many ways in which you can try to combat this threat. It is of course important to note that there is no sure fire method as these gangs are implementing more and more sophisticated methods - but there are steps you can take.
Tear, shred or burn any old documents which contain information about your bank account, your credit card account or other means of obtaining money from banks, building societies or institutions offering credit.
Do not under any circumstances pass your details over the Internet unless you are using a guaranteed secure site. If you are making a purchase for the first time check out the legitimacy of the company you are using. You can do this online through the Companies House website at www.companieshouse.gov.uk. This site will give you basic information on any company you are dealing with including their date of incorporation and their registered address. Further information can be obtained at a cost.
Never reply to emails received from banks or building societies. These organisations will never ask for details of your accounts, user names or passwords online. They may send you advertisements or offers via email but they will not ask for personal information.
You should avoid giving your personal information out during the course of a telephone call, especially if this call is unsolicited. You can subscribe to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) which is free and is designed to cut down - if not completely prevent - the receipt of cold calls to your home or mobile telephone number.
If you are stopped in the street by a canvasser take details and explain that if you are interested you will forward your details on. Do not give out details to anyone in the street. Members of Organised criminal gangs have been known to operate as canvassers in an attempt to collate details on busy high streets>.