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2013 was no cause for celebration despite fraud decrease



Cifas – the UK's Fraud Prevention Service, today releases Fraudscape: a 52-page report that analyses the frauds recorded by over 300 organisations during 2013. While overall fraud levels decreased in 2013 by 11% compared with 2012, analysis in Fraudscape reveals numerous startling fraud trends.

Click here to download a copy of Fraudscape. An interactive contents page will help you to pinpoint sections of particular interest.


Fraudscape shows that UK plc must not be complacent

While a reduction in fraud might seem to be good news, Fraudscape reveals numerous reasons why the fraud landscape in the UK was more challenging:

  • The 11% reduction came after two years of steep increases in fraud levels and the unprecedented near 250,000 frauds recorded in 2012. This means that the 2013 figure remained largely in line with the patterns witnessed since 2009 and in excess of the levels recorded before the beginning of the recession.
  • With over 221,000 frauds recorded in 2013, that is over 600 frauds every day. This provides a frightening indication of what true UK fraud levels really are, given the number of public and private sector organisations that do not yet participate in joined up, counter fraud systems such as Cifas. 
  • Identity related crimes – frauds where criminals misuse the personal data of victims – still accounted for over 60% of all fraud in the UK in 2013.
  • There were notable changes in the products targeted by fraudsters in 2013 when compared with previous years: plastic cards (i.e. credit and store cards) were the product most targeted by fraudsters in 2013 (30% of all frauds - representing an increase of 24% from 2012). In addition, mortgage fraud (+26%), loan fraud (+55%) also increased, while fraud against bank accounts decreased by 14%.
  • Men remained the most likely to be targeted by identity fraudsters, as well as being the most likely to commit fraud.
  • Geographically, large urban centres such as London remained the fraud hotspots in the UK. A notable shrinkage has taken place, however, with far fewer ‘hotspots’ outside London and the South-East recorded in 2013.
  • Collaboration with Experian and analysis of Cifas data (using their socio-demographic tool Mosaic) confirms that certain preconceptions have a solid basis in fact: notably that the most affluent members of society are the most frequently deliberately targeted by fraudsters. However, the analysis has also helped reveal an apparent generation gap in terms of awareness of fraud: with elder citizens (irrespective of status) far less likely to commit fraud.

Has fraud really gone down? Understanding the current fraud landscape

Cifas Communications Manager, Richard Hurley, comments: “Numerous sets of figures have been released by a variety of organisations during the past six months, presenting a confusing picture of fraud levels. Understanding the fraud figures, therefore, remains at the heart of this year’s Fraudscape report. Through its mix of statistics, geographic and demographic analysis, and examination of fraud in terms of the products and people affected, it is clear that the 11% reduction is not quite as rosy a picture as one might hope.

“Not only does Fraudscape confirm how quick and ingenious fraudsters are (quickly targeting organisations that are not part of the joined-up counter-fraud community in the UK), but also shows that there is no cause for complacency. Organisations and the media have a role to play in terms of educating the public about fraud. In addition, those organisations - both public and private sector - that are not putting counter fraud measures in place and sharing their expertise and data are making it more difficult for the UK to defeat fraud.

“While any reduction in fraud is good, this report demonstrates that the fraudsters have merely changed tactics. It is up to the collective efforts of the UK’s public and private sectors therefore to do more to do to protect its reputation as a safe place to do business. Otherwise, we collectively leave our wallets in full view to be stolen by the fraudsters.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. Cifas is the UK's Fraud Prevention Service – providing the UK's most comprehensive databases of confirmed fraud data, as well as an extensive range of fraud prevention services, to over 300 organisations from the public and private sectors. Organisations share fraud information in order to prevent fraud and come from a variety of sectors including banking, grant giving, credit card, asset finance, retail credit, mail order and online retailer, insurance, saving, telecommunication, factoring, share dealing, vetting agencies, contact centres and insurance brokering sectors. Cifas is unique and was the first data sharing scheme of its type in the world. Other schemes modelled on Cifas have been set up in Southern Africa and Germany.