CRIMINALS have access to the personal details of more than 13,000 Evesham and Pershore residents on the so-called ‘dark web’, the Observer can reveal.
Details ranging from home addresses to bank account numbers are being held on 13,447 people living in postcode areas WR10 to WR12 according to C6 Intelligence, the company which carried out the search for the Observer.
And in 1,163 cases, ‘high-risk’ information is up for sale including credit card numbers, passwords and security answers for online accounts.
During their search, C6 Intelligence also found 392 credit card numbers of Evesham and Pershore residents, 69 of which came with the three-digit security code printed on the back of bank cards.
A staggering 679 email and password combinations were available to buy according to their search, as were 11 account numbers and six answers to security questions.
The dates of birth of 75 residents are also available and according to C6 Intelligence’s Chief Executive Officer, Darren Innes, the material is easy to access for those in the know.
“As members of the public we only see between ten and 20 per cent of the internet. Lots of websites which are set up are purely being used by criminals.
“We call it the ‘dark web’ and it’s the same place where drugs are sold and people go to get child pornography.
“The sale of personal data is almost risk-free crime because it’s so hard to stop. When one site is shut down another opens up just a few hours later. People are getting away with it because the risk is so low.”
Mr Innes said criminals gathered personal data through a combination of sophisticated hacking and finding that readily available on social media websites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
“Worryingly the information available is growing yearly. At the beginning of this year we were finding 13,000 pieces of data each day. In the last two months this had risen to an average of 658,000 per day,” he added.
“The threat is very real and most people only find out they have been victim to dark web crime when they check their bank statements and see an unexpected transaction, or when they apply for credit and are refused.”
Det Chf Insp Sean Paley, from West Mercia Police specialist operations unit, said “Most people would never dream of leaving their home unlocked or handing out details of personal or business bank accounts to strangers in the street.
“However, many are leaving themselves just as vulnerable as this online.
“An understanding of the scams to look out for and knowing the simple preventative measures that can be put in place, really can reduce the chances of someone becoming a victim of cyber crime.”
C6 Intelligence recommend changing passwords regularly and having a different password for each online account.
Visit www.hasmyidentitybeenstolen.com to run a free search to see if your personal details are for sale.