Identity fraud reaches an epidemic level

Nearly 500 identities are stolen each day for fraud purposes according to new data from Cifas, a non-for-profit fraud prevention service.

Identity fraud reaches an epidemic level

The data published today (August 23) found 89,000 cases of identity fraud were committed in the first half of this year – 56 percent of all fraud cases in the UK for this period.

Simon Dukes, chief executive of 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.”

Cifas said there has been a sharp rise in fraudsters stealing identities to apply for loans, online retail, telecoms and insurance products.

It said that although the number of identity fraud attempts against bank accounts and plastic cards has fallen they still account for more than half of all identity fraud cases. 

Cifas said the 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. It said victims do not often realise that they have been targeted until a bill arrives for something they did not buy or they experience problems with their credit rating.

Fraudsters get hold of the personal data they need to carry out such crimes using a number of methods including stealing mail, hacking, using the dark web, social media, or through ‘social engineering’. This is where innocent parties are persuaded to give up personal information to someone pretending to be from their bank, the police or a trusted retailer.

Dukes said: “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.”

The age range that has been targeted by identity fraudsters the most for the first six months of this year was against those aged between 31 and 40 – an increase of around one percent compared to the same period last year.

The age range that has seen the biggest increase in being targeted by identity fraudsters are those aged 21 and under. This figure increased nearly 50 percent for the first half of this year, to 1,023 cases, compared to 684 cases for the first half of 2016.