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8.6M fake ID users in UK: GBG report

8.6M fake ID users in UK: GBG report

Over eight million people in the UK have taken advantage of fake, fraudulent or someone else’s identity to access goods, services or credit.

The data comes from a report commissioned by GBG and undertaken by Censuswide. The survey was taken by 2,000 UK consumers following the Online Safety Bill returning to Parliament. The release of the reports hints at the urgency of passing the bill, which includes the enforcement of age limits and age-checking measures, and could lead to widespread use of biometrics for age verification or estimation.

“Underage kids are getting access to gambling, alcohol and porn sites, and also running up huge debts without fully understanding the consequences and, very often, at the expense of their parents,” says Gus Tomlinson, chief product officer of EMEA at GBG, commenting on the figures.

In fact, while 16 percent (8.6 million if scaled up to the national level) of all respondents admitted to having used fake identities, the number was higher (33 percent) for young people in the UK (16-24).

“With the majority of identity fraud taking place online, social media platforms and businesses are putting themselves at huge risk of being closed down, fined as well as incurring financial and reputational damage, if they don’t have appropriate identity verification and fraud measures in place,” Tomlinson adds.

Gender-wise, the GBG report shows that 23 percent of UK males have used fake, fraudulent or someone else’s identity compared to only 8 percent of females.

Also, high-earners and full-time workers were more likely to commit this kind of fraud. The GBG report suggests 26 percent of people earning £45,001-£50,000 (US$55,674-$61,859) and people earning more than £55,001 ($68,046) said they had used fake IDs compared to 13 percent of people earning £15,000 ($18,557) or less.

The survey concludes by suggesting that 94 percent of business leaders (chief security officers and chief information security officers) surveyed confirmed that businesses are cutting corners and creating a ripe environment for identity fraud by not having sufficient measures to check and verify identities online.

“The technology is here, and with the introduction of the Online Safety Bill and more robust regulation, there is no excuse for businesses not to have identity verification checks in place,” Tomlinson concludes.

“The use of fake, fraudulent or someone else’s identity is not a victimless crime, and people need to be much more aware and protective of their own identity to ensure it doesn’t get into unsafe or fraudulent hands.”

The GBG report comes a week after UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he would add two-year prison sentences for tech firm managers failing to protect children online to the Online Safety Bill.

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