THREE-QUARTERS of British employees believe their company is failing to do enough to protect them from ID fraud, new research claims.

More than half think sensitive documents could be stolen from desks, while 72% said dishonest colleagues could leak information to fraudsters.

But individuals are not without blame themselves as 64% of adults do not understand how best to reduce the risk of ID theft, the study found.

The figures were released to coincide with the beginning of National Identity Fraud Prevention week – a Government-backed initiative to warn of the dangers of identity fraud.

Official statistics show the crime costs the UK economy more than £1 billion every year. In the UK alone, some 4.3 million adults have fallen victim to identity fraudsters.

A survey of the attitudes of more than 1,000 British adults found 95% realise they are at risk.

But a large section are failing to undertake simple measures to protect themselves.

About 14% surf the web unprotected, without sufficient security software.

And a third of respondents said they did not always report the loss of important documents such as passports or driving licences.

Just under two-thirds admitted to throwing sensitive papers into the bin without shredding first.

Detective Chief Supt Nigel Mawer, head of the Metropolitan Police’s economic and specialist crime command, said: “The issue of identity theft is not something that will go away. With increasing developments in technology and constant increase in computer usage it is crucial that we continue to raise public awareness.

“By taking simple measures, the public can protect their identities and ultimately avoid becoming a victim.

“This is not a victimless crime and can cause great personal distress.”

British firms should also be upping their game when it comes to the fight against ID fraud, the latest figures suggest.

The vast majority – 97% – of consumers are not completely confident that the organisations they deal with take adequate steps to protect information.

And 75% of employees said their firm should be doing more to reduce the risk of ID theft.

Mike Cherry, home affairs chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Businesses should be aware of the myriad of different ways in which their corporate identity can be used and abused, from theft of internet domain names to phishing or spam emails that pose as a legitimate business and damage their reputation.

“Dealing with the aftermath of an event can be a costly headache. We urge businesses to think foremost about prevention and training for staff that handle sensitive business information and that of their customers and clients.”

Separate research released by insurer Royal Sun Alliance (RSA), also highlights concern over identity theft.

Its survey of 1,000 UK adults found that almost half said banks and retailers were not doing enough to protect personal data.

Moreover, 90% of respondents believe that important personal information held by such firms is not completely secure.

Around 50% of people asked said they were more concerned now about identity fraud than they were six months ago.

But researchers estimated more than 860,000 people in the UK have accidentally left work documents or devices such as a laptop or Blackberry in a public place or on communal transport.

Desmond Cross, director of retail at RSA, said: “Companies must act immediately to address the concerns of their customers by managing risk in all areas of their business.

“Even ‘small’ breaches in customer confidentiality can lead to widespread concern and can have a massive impact on the company's reputation, and on the reputation of their industry as a whole.’’