Scots targeted by cyber crimewave

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SCOTS are being targeted by cyber criminals with the power to steal their identities and empty their bank accounts, an influential organisation has warned.

The Scottish Business Crime Centre (SBCC) has revealed that individuals are increasingly being singled out by internet criminals because they are not disposing of valuable information correctly, making it easier for them to steal their identities. Documents including bank details and national insurance numbers are used by criminals during “bin raids” which helps them build a profile of a person or business, allowing them to steal identities and take out fraudulent loans, mortgages and other goods and services.

Cyber crime costs Scottish businesses an estimated £5 billion a year.

Gary Ritchie, assistant director of the SBCC said: “People do not realise how easily criminals can access information if documents and other electronic data is not properly disposed of.”

He said: “Simple steps such as shredding documents and destroying redundant hard drives can make it extremely difficult for criminals to get hold of the details they need. People’s personal information is traded on the black market and has already become more lucrative than the illegal drugs trade.

“If people do not securely dispose of personal information, criminals can find out everything they need to know to steal an identity and take out loans or mortgages in their name. This can take years to unravel for the poor victim.”

Cyber criminals are increasingly targeting smaller and medium-sized businesses as larger organisations are becoming more aware of the importance of protecting sensitive information by shredding documents and installing firewalls.