CRIMINALS can access the personal details of more than 30,000 people living in Redditch, Studley and Alcester on the so-called ‘dark web’.
Details ranging from home addresses to bank account numbers are being held on 25,126 people living in postcode areas B96 to B98 according to C6 Intelligence, the company which carried out the search for the Standard.
A total of 4,234 people living in B49 and B80 also can have their details accessed, while 2,079 of those living in B48 and WR7 are also at risk.
In the Redditch area, 1,748 cases of ‘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 nearly 700 credit card numbers for borough, Studley and Alcester residents, 108 of which came with the three-digit security code printed on the back of bank cards.
A staggering 1,244 e-mail and password combinations were available to buy according to their search, as were 22 account numbers and 12 answers to security questions.
The dates of birth of 138 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,” he said.
“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 information 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 Ch Insp Sean Paley, from West Mercia Police’s 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.”
C6 Intelligence recommend changing passwords regularly and having a different password for each online account.
Residents can run a search on www.hasmyidentitybeenstolen.com to see if their personal details are for sale.