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Identity fraud soars to new levels

23 August 2017
  • Record 89,000 cases recorded in first six months of year
  • Identity fraud now accounts for 56% of all fraud reported by Cifas members

Today, Wednesday 23 August 2017, Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has released new figures showing that identity fraud has continued to rise at record levels in the first six months of 2017.  A record 89,000 identity frauds were recorded, up 5% from last year. Representing over half of all fraud recorded by the UK’s not-for-profit fraud data sharing organisation, 83% of identity frauds were perpetrated online.

The latest figures show there has been a sharp rise in identity fraudsters applying for loans, online retail, telecoms and insurance products. Although the number of identity fraud attempts against bank accounts and plastic cards has fallen these still account for more than half of all identity fraud cases.  

The vast majority of 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 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 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. 

Simon Dukes, Chief Executive, Cifas said: 
“We have seen identity fraud attempts increase year on year, now reaching epidemic levels, with identities being stolen at a rate of almost 500 a day.

“These frauds are taking place almost exclusively online. The vast amounts of personal data that is available either online or through data breaches is only making it easier for the fraudster.

“Criminals are relentlessly targeting consumers and businesses and we must all be alert to the threat and do more to protect personal information.

“For smaller and medium-sized businesses in particular, they must focus on educating staff on good cyber security behaviours and raise awareness of the social engineering techniques employed by fraudsters. Relying solely on new fraud prevention technology is not enough.”

Head of the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate, Detective Superintendent Glenn Maleary said: 
“Identify fraud continues to be a significant issue in law enforcement and the new figures which Cifas has released today come as no surprise. The more our lives move online the easier it becomes for fraudsters to steal our identity. It has become normal for people to publish personal details about themselves on social media and on other online platforms which makes it easier than ever for a fraudster to steal someone’s identity. 

“The figures show that both businesses and consumers are targeted and it is therefore important that people commit to protecting themselves in all aspects of their lives. Be careful who you give your information to, always consider whether it is necessary to part with those details. Cyber security is becoming increasingly important and we urge everyone both at home and at work to ensure that they have the right security settings on all of their devices. 

“We urge consumers and businesses to be conscious of identify fraudsters and to use our protection advice to help stop them in their tracks. We continue to work with banks, retailers and other members of industry to disrupt fraudsters activity however we also realise it is our responsibility to help advise consumers and businesses around these types of issues. We urge anyone who is interested  in finding out about the latest fraud trends to sign up to our Action Fraud alerts.” 



Notes to editors

Table 1: Identity fraud cases by product 


Bank accounts

Plastic cards




Online retail

Jan-Jun 2016







Jan-Jun 2017







% Change








*Table 2 - Age breakdown of victims of impersonation 








Jan-Jun 2017







Victims w/ DOB







Jan-Jun 2016







Victims w/ DOB







% change













*Please note not all victims of impersonation are recorded with a valid UK address or date of birth, so not all cases can be attributed to a regional or 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 (89,000).

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?

  • Set your privacy settings across all the social media channels you use. And just think twice before you share details – in particular your full date of birth, your address, contacts details – all this information can be useful to fraudsters!
  • Password protect your devices. Keep your passwords complex by picking three random words, such as roverducklemon and add or split them with symbols, numbers and capitals:R0v3rDuckLemon!.
  • Install anti-virus software on your laptop and any other personal devices and then keep it up to date. MoneySavingExpert have a recommended list of the best free anti-virus software.
  • Take care on public Wi-Fi – fraudsters hack them or mimic them. If you’re using one, avoid accessing sensitive apps such as mobile banking.
  • Download updates to your software when your device prompts you – they often add enhanced security features.
  • Think about your offline information too, like post. Always redirect your mail when you leave home and try to make sure your mailbox is secure.

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 at the Action Fraud website.
  • If you have information about those committing identity crime please tell independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or at the Crimestoppers website.
  • 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 the Victim Support website

About Cifas

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 2016, 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.

For more information, please contact:
Sarah Samee
+44 (0)20 3004 3609


Cifas joins TruNarrative platform

29 August 2017

TruNarrative now has a direct link to Cifas, enabling our members to view our data integrated with fraud insight, decisions and case management systems.


Government extends pension cold-calling ban

21 August 2017

Cifas Chief Executive Simon Dukes provides a comment in support of the Government’s plans to protect private pension savers from scammers by extending the ban.

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Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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