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Fraud and Risk Focus Blog

Report highlights role of fraud prevention databases

16 November 2016

The Portsmouth Centre for Criminal Justice Studies has today published a report highlighting the sheer scale of fraud in the UK.  It finds that fewer than two per cent of people who are caught committing fraud are dealt with by the criminal justice system.

At Cifas, we work closely with law enforcement agencies and send approximately 800 fraud cases a day to the City of London Police. We know that police forces are working hard to tackle fraud and support victims; but we share concerns about the need for future funding and resourcing. Read more about our views on policy.

The report also touches on a subject close to our heart: transparency and fraud prevention. Why is this so close to our heart?  Because data and trust have to go hand-in-hand.

Last year, we used data sharing to prevent £1 billion in fraud losses and protect the identities of more than 175,000 people. We know that our data makes a significant difference to the UK’s fight against fraud and we don’t take our role as a database operator lightly.  Managing the UK’s cross-sector fraud prevention databases means that we are responsible for storing personal information.  Although our members decide what cases to file, we are the custodians of this data and we have a responsibility to handle data securely and safely, to open ourselves to scrutiny, and to act in the public interest. That’s why integrity is one of our core values.

So we are pleased that this report repeatedly highlights Cifas as leading the way in both transparent fraud prevention and rigorous data compliance processes. The report examines various approaches to fraud offences outside of the criminal justice system, and is the first study to assess the relative openness and fairness of fraud prevention databases in the UK. 

The report also highlights a range of areas where Cifas and others in the fraud database sector can improve and we will examine these areas closely. We think that greater awareness of our database would help to educate and deter people from committing fraud, and we want to ensure that our complaints and appeals processes are as clear as they can be.

We’re a not-for-profit, independent organisation with a belief that trust in data is vital for fraud prevention. We want to build on what we do and work with partners to help set high industry standards in these areas. To guide us on this journey we will shortly announce the appointment of an independent Citizen Advocate. Operating at board level and across the organisation, our Citizen Advocate will challenge us to make sure we are as clear as we can be.  In some areas of fraud prevention it can be difficult to be fully open at all times. Examples include where there is an active police investigation or serious money laundering concerns that have been reported to the National Crime Agency, or would be covered by the Proceeds of Crime Act. Our new Citizen Advocate will help us navigate these issues and help us lead by example when it comes to trusted fraud prevention.

Additionally we will soon launch a new “Individuals” section on our website to make it easier for members of the public to find information; whether it’s about Protective Registration, Subject Access Requests, advice on how to protect yourself from fraud, or other queries. We plan to review our contact options next year, making it easier for individuals wanting to know more about what we do to get in touch.

If you have any ideas, comments or feedback for us, please email us

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