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Criminals target UK youth as identity fraud rises

4 July 2016
  • Cifas data reveals identity fraud victims aged 30 and under up by 52% in 2015
  • New film, featuring a coffee shop stunt, launched to encourage young people to protect personal information online
  • Regional figures show Manchester and London have seen the biggest increases
     

Today, 5 July 2016, Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has released new figures showing a 52% rise in young identity fraud victims in the UK. In 2015, just under 24,000 (23,959) people aged 30 and under were victims of identity fraud. This is up from 15,766 in 2014, and is more than double the 11,000 victims in this age bracket in 2010.

The figures have been published on the same day as a new short film, Data to Go, is launched online to raise awareness of this type of fraud. Filmed in a London coffee shop in March this year, the film uses hidden cameras to capture baffled reactions from people caught in a stunt where their personal data, all found on public websites, is revealed to them live on a coffee cup.

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 usually have 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, including through hacking and data loss, as well as using social media to put the pieces of someone’s identity together. 86 per cent of all identity frauds in 2015 were perpetrated online.

People of all ages can be at risk of identity fraud but with growing numbers of young people falling victim, Cifas is calling for better education around fraud and financial crime.

Simon Dukes, Cifas, Chief Executive said:
“Fraudsters are opportunists. As banks and lenders have become more adept at detecting false identities, fraudsters have focused on stealing and using genuine people’s details instead. Society, government and industry all have a role in preventing fraud, however our concern is that the lack of awareness about identity fraud is making it even easier for fraudsters to obtain the information they need.

“The likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online platforms are much more than just social media sites - they are now a hunting ground for identity thieves. We are urging people to check their privacy settings today and think twice about what they share. Social media is fantastic and the way we live our lives online gives us huge opportunities. Taking a few simple steps will help us to enjoy the benefits while reducing the risks. To a fraudster, the information we put online is a goldmine.”

Commander Chris Greany, City of London Police and national co-ordinator for economic crime said:
“We have known for some time that identity fraud has become the engine that drives much of today’s criminality and so it is vitally important that people keep their personal information safe and secure.  In the fight against fraud, education is key and it’s great that Cifas and its members are taking identity fraud seriously and working together to raise awareness of how the issue is now increasingly affecting young people through the launch of this film.”

As part of the campaign, Cifas commissioned a survey with Britain Thinks to find out more about 18-24 year olds’ attitudes towards personal data and identity fraud. The survey found that young people are alarmingly unaware that they are at risk:

  • Only 34 per cent of 18-24 year olds say they learnt about online security when they were at school;
  • 50 per cent of the 18-24 year olds surveyed believe they would never fall for an online scam (compared to the national average of 37 per cent);
  • Only 57 per cent of 18-24 year olds report thinking about how secure their personal details are online (compared to 73 per cent for the population as a whole); 
  • They are also less likely to install anti-virus software on their mobile phone than the national average (27 per cent compared to 37 per cent).

Organisations such as City of London and Action Fraud, Get Safe Online, HMG’s Cyber Streetwise campaign, Financial Fraud Action UK, and Cifas members including Coventry Building Society, BT and Secure Trust Bank are all supporting the campaign and sharing the film across their social media networks. Cifas is also appealing to youth organisations, schools and universities to share the film so it reaches as many young people as possible.

ENDS

Notes to editors

Cifas was supported by creative agency BBH, as part of their Creativity for Good scheme, in the production of the film.

About the film

With the promise of a free coffee and a croissant, participants were asked to ‘like’ the café’s Facebook page. A team of background researchers, within a maximum time period of three minutes, searched across public websites to find as much personal information and data as possible. That data was then radioed through to a barista, who wrote it on to a cup and handed it to the unsuspecting customer.  Hidden cameras captured their ‘baffled’ reactions and the film ends with the line ‘Don’t make it easy for fraudsters. Set your privacy settings’.

Victims of identity fraud by age

Age group

Victims in 2015

Victims in 2014

Percentage increase

Under 21

1,343

916

47%

21-30

22,616

14,850

52%

31-40

36,502

22,248

64%

41-50

33,702

21,717

55%

51-60

28,366

17,698

60%

Over 60

25,934

17,063

52%

Total

148,463

94,492

57%

 

In 2015, only 3.4 per cent of all identity frauds involved fictitious identities compared to 10.6 per cent in 2011.

Regional 2015 breakdown - Identity frauds victims aged 21-30 of major UK cities:

City

Victims in 2015

Victims in 2014

Percentage Increase

Manchester 

781

426

83%

London

4,280

2,406

78%

Leeds

302

190

59%

Glasgow

245

204

20%

Birmingham

862

732

18%

Liverpool

216

183

18%

 

We compile our data from fraud cases that have been recorded on the National Fraud Database by 261 organisations. Our members only record confirmed frauds to our databases – i.e. where there is sufficient and clear evidence that a fraud has taken place.

The figures above include all frauds – including attempts that our systems were able to stop before a financial loss was incurred. We include all cases where a fraudulent application is submitted, regardless of whether the application is successful or not, as the fraud has already occurred and the victim’s identity details have been compromised.

The full breakdown of Cifas 2015 figures and the Britain Thinks survey will be available to download on Tuesday 5 July.

What to do if you're a victim

ACT FAST if you think you have been a victim of identity fraud

  • If you receive any mail that seems suspicious or implies you have an account with the sender when you don’t, do not ignore it.
  • Get a copy of your credit report as it is one of the first places you can spot if someone is misusing your personal information – before you suffer financial loss. Review every entry on your credit report and if you see an account or even a credit search from a company that you do not recognise, notify the credit reference agency.
  • Individuals or businesses who have fallen victim to identity fraud should report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
  • If you have information about those committing identity crime please tell independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
  • If you have been a victim of fraud, you can contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice and support. Victim Support is the independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales. Find out more at www.victimsupport.org.uk.

About Cifas

Cifas aims to make the UK a safer place to do business, by enabling organisations in every sector to prevent fraud and protect the public through the sharing of confirmed fraud data.

Cifas is a not-for-profit organisation and has over 360 members spanning the public and private sectors. In 2015 alone, Cifas members prevented over £1.1 billion of avoidable fraud losses by using Cifas databases. Cifas also offers Protective Registration for individuals whose identities are at risk of being used fraudulently, for instance after a burglary.

In 2014, Cifas launched a scheme called Protecting the Vulnerable. This service is offered free of charge to local authorities to protect those under the care of Court Deputies who are unable to access financial products and whose identities may be at risk.

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Posted by: Cifas Press Team

press@cifas.org.uk

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