Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has released new figures showing that identity fraud has continued to rise at record levels in the first six months of 2017.
A record 89,000 identity frauds were recorded, up 5% from last year. Representing over half of all fraud recorded by the UK’s not-for-profit fraud data sharing organisation, 83% of identity frauds were perpetrated online.
The latest figures show there has been a sharp rise in identity fraudsters applying for loans, online retail, telecoms and insurance products. Although the number of identity fraud attempts against bank accounts and plastic cards has fallen these still account for more than half of all identity fraud cases.
The vast majority of identity fraud happens when a fraudster pretends to be an innocent individual to buy a product or take out a loan in their name. Often victims do not even realise that they have been targeted until a bill arrives for something they did not buy or they experience problems with their credit rating. To carry out this kind of fraud successfully, fraudsters need access to their victim’s personal information such as name, date of birth, address, their bank and who they hold accounts with. Fraudsters get hold of this in a variety of ways, from stealing mail through to hacking; obtaining data on the ‘dark web’; exploiting personal information on social media, or though ‘social engineering’ where innocent parties are persuaded to give up personal information to someone pretending to be from their bank, the police or a trusted retailer.
Simon Dukes, Chief Executive, Cifas said:
“We have seen identity fraud attempts increase year on year, now reaching epidemic levels, with identities being stolen at a rate of almost 500 a day.
“These frauds are taking place almost exclusively online. The vast amounts of personal data that is available either online or through data breaches is only making it easier for the fraudster.
“Criminals are relentlessly targeting consumers and businesses and we must all be alert to the threat and do more to protect personal information.
“For smaller and medium-sized businesses in particular, they must focus on educating staff on good cyber security behaviours and raise awareness of the social engineering techniques employed by fraudsters. Relying solely on new fraud prevention technology is not enough.”
Head of the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate, Detective Superintendent Glenn Maleary said:
“Identify fraud continues to be a significant issue in law enforcement and the new figures which Cifas has released today come as no surprise. The more our lives move online the easier it becomes for fraudsters to steal our identity. It has become normal for people to publish personal details about themselves on social media and on other online platforms which makes it easier than ever for a fraudster to steal someone’s identity.
“The figures show that both businesses and consumers are targeted and it is therefore important that people commit to protecting themselves in all aspects of their lives. Be careful who you give your information to, always consider whether it is necessary to part with those details. Cyber security is becoming increasingly important and we urge everyone both at home and at work to ensure that they have the right security settings on all of their devices.
“We urge consumers and businesses to be conscious of identify fraudsters and to use our protection advice to help stop them in their tracks. We continue to work with banks, retailers and other members of industry to disrupt fraudsters activity however we also realise it is our responsibility to help advise consumers and businesses around these types of issues. We urge anyone who is interested in finding out about the latest fraud trends to sign up to our Action Fraud alerts.”