Today, Wednesday 15 August 2018, Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has released new figures showing that identity fraud has fallen for the first time since 2014. Cifas members recorded 84,463 cases in the first six months of the year, a 5% drop compared to the same period in 2017 (89,199). Despite the reduction, identity fraud still represents over half of all fraud recorded by the UK’s not-for-profit fraud data sharing organisation, with 87% of identity frauds perpetrated online.
The latest figures show there has been a reduction in the volume of bank accounts being targeted by identity fraudsters, with cases falling by 12% (2,882 fewer cases), and a 34% reduction in attempts to obtain mobile phone contracts (3,096 fewer cases). However the figures reveal a sharp rise in identity fraudsters applying for plastic card accounts, with cases increasing by 12% (3,454 more cases). The figures also show identity fraud against online retail accounts has risen by 24% (1,232 more cases).
The vast majority of identity fraud happens when a fraudster pretends to be an innocent individual to buy a product or open an account in their name. Victims may 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 need 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, from stealing mail through to hacking; obtaining data on the dark and surface web, exploiting personal information on social media, or though ‘social engineering’ where innocent parties are persuaded to give up personal information to someone pretending to be from their bank, the police or a trusted retailer.
Sandra Peaston, Director of Strategy, Policy and Insight, Cifas, said:
“Identity fraud cases reached record levels in 2017, therefore it is positive that we have seen an overall reduction in the first six months of the year. However, these new figures demonstrate that identity fraudsters adapt quickly to try and circumvent security measures. The re-targeting of plastic cards, following a drop in 2017, is a prime example of this.
With identity fraud remaining uncomfortably high, more personal information available online, and increasing numbers of data breaches, the protection of personal data must be viewed as a collective responsibility. Everyone should play their part, from individuals and organisations taking steps to protect personal data to businesses ensuring their fraud prevention practices effectively defend against evolving tactics employed by identity fraudsters.”
Pauline Smith, head of the City of London Police’s Action Fraud said:
“This overall reduction in identity fraud is an encouraging step in the right direction for the fight against fraud. However, we would urge people to remain cautious when sharing their personal details.
Fraudsters prey on vulnerability. The sharp rise in fraudulent applications for plastic card accounts means that it’s as vital as ever for people to continue protecting their personal details. You should check your banking statements carefully and report anything suspicious to the bank or financial service provider concerned.
If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud.”
Notes to editors
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Table 1 – year breakdown of UK total identity fraud figures (first six month comparison)
Table 2 – Identity fraud cases by product
*Table 3 – Age breakdown of victims of impersonation
*Please note not all victims of impersonation are recorded with a date of birth, so not all cases can be attributed to an age breakdown. Additionally, where the fraud involves the use of an entirely fictitious identity, no victim details are recorded. If you are looking for a total figure, please use the figure in the press release (84,463). We compile our data from identity fraud cases that have been recorded on our National Fraud Database by more than 400 organisations.
What can consumers do to protect themselves?
What to do if you're a victim:
ACT FAST if you think you have been a victim of identity fraud
Cifas (pronounced ci like eye, fas like mass) exists to prevent fraud and financial crime. We are an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation that protects businesses and individuals through effective and secure data and intelligence sharing between the private, public and third sectors. In 2017, Cifas member organisations prevented over £1 billion of fraud losses.
Cifas data is included in the Office of National Statistics England and Wales Crime Statistics of police recorded crime. Every day, we send approximately 800 fraud cases to the City of London Police for potential investigation. Cifas also offers Protective Registration for individuals whose identities are at risk of being used fraudulently, for instance after a burglary. We also run a scheme called Protecting the Vulnerable, 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.