Identity fraud can be very worrying for the victims, and levels have increased noticeably in recent years, while official reports indicate that other crimes have decreased. 

Year

2008

2009

2010 

2011

2012

2013

Cases of identity fraud reported through Cifas

77,600

102,300

102,600 

113,250

123,600

108,500

 

Costs

  • Identity theft costs the UK more than £3.3 billion a year (Annual Fraud Indicator 2013).
  • £3.5 billion was lost to benefit fraud and error in 2012 (Department for Work and Pensions).
  • The Serious Organised Crime Agency acknowledges identity crime as a threat.
  • Identity fraud provides criminals with £10 million cash flow every day.

It's also worth noting that while some statistics distinguish between fraud committed against the public and private sectors, fraudsters themselves are not so choosy. The same stolen identity used to apply for loans and credit cards can also be used for multiple benefit claims, tax evasion and more.

 

Victims

Identity theft is definitely not a victimless crime. In 2012 , Cifas identified and protected over 150,000 victims of identity theft and/or account takeover.

In one-off cases, perhaps involving one fraudulent application or transaction, the damage to the victim may be minimal. But in others, fraudsters who comprehensively steal an identity can cause unquantifiable distress.

It can take between 3 and 48 hours of work for typical victims to sort out their lives and clear their names. In the case of a 'total hijack', involving 20-30 different organisations, it can take a victim over 200 hours to get things back to normal. Their credit status may also suffer considerable damage, affecting their ability to obtain finance or insurance. Even their mortgage might be temporarily compromised.

Far more difficult to describe are the feelings of unease and distress that come with being a victim. Many describe emotions such as distrust, fear, and violation.

 

For more information

What is identity crime?

How do I avoid being a victim - and what can I do if I become one?