Known as the setting of ‘The Office’ and for some disparaging verse by John Betjeman, Slough has a new claim to infamy – the Berkshire town has just overtaken London to become the UK’s capital for identity fraud.
Figures from information services company Experian show there are 25 cases of identity fraud for every 10,000 households in the commuter town. That sees it rise above London (22 cases per 10,000 households) to top Experian’s list of fraud hotspots.
While London as a whole was below Slough, several areas within the capital saw far higher levels of fraud than average. East Ham (78 cases per 10,000 households), Woolwich (46 cases per 10,000 households) and Stratford (43 cases per 10,000 households) head the Experian list.
That compares with a national average of just seven cases per 10,000 homes.
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Experian also looked at the people most at risk, as well as the areas.
The company found that – for the first time – criminals were targeting younger, poorer Britons rather than their traditional targets of the richest members of society.
“Identity fraudsters have traditionally focused the bulk of their attentions on the wealthiest sections of society living in prestigious London postcodes. Our research shows that the risk continues to spread, with the highest rates of identity fraud now to be found in the Thames Valley and London’s Olympic neighbourhoods,” said Nick Mothershaw, UK director of identity and fraud services at Experian.
Young people renting small flats from local councils or housing associations were found to be most at risk, followed by those with few qualifications who work in relatively menial, routine jobs and live near the centres of small towns or in older terraced houses in London.
These groups were more than twice as likely to be the target of attempted fraud as the average Briton, with their risk of being targeted leaping by 47% and 75% respectively and in the last year. By contrast, the wealthiest people – those living in fashionable London neighbourhoods – had their risk of being targeted by identity fraudsters halve in the past 12 months.
The UK’s ID fraud hotspots
Top 10 nationwide
Cases / 10k households