A big rise in identity fraud
Have you ever been the victim of identity fraud?
Cases of identity fraud are on the rise, with a record 89,000 cases recorded in the first half of this year.
This is up by 5% on last year, according to Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service
Identity fraud now represents over half of all fraud recorded by the UK’s not-for-profit fraud data sharing organisation.
83% of identity frauds were perpetrated online, highlighting how important it is to secure our digital lives.
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.”
There are some simple steps we can all take to prevent becoming a victim of identity theft.
Being careful online is essential; install and keep up to date your anti-virus, phishing and spyware/malware software.
Also take real care about the websites you visit and the emails you open. It’s easy to click a fraudulent link in an email and give criminals access to your computer files, where they can gather lots of personal and confidential information.
Despite the rise in online identity theft, traditional methods are still used by the crooks. Shred or burn any confidential documents, so criminals cannot obtain your personal details by rummaging through your recycling bin.
Regular checks on your financial statements are a must, so you can spot any unexpected transactions.
We also recommend regularly checking your credit report, as this is a good way to spot anyone taking out loans or other credit in your name.