In May 2014, Cifas launched its Protecting the Vulnerable service. This is a free service for local authorities and relevant care bodies to help provide a layer of protection against financial harm suffered by vulnerable adults under their care.
Why do we need this?
Sadly, fraudsters can and do target vulnerable members of our society to exploit their circumstances for financial gain. This can manifest itself in the form of opening new bank accounts, taking out loans, setting up and spending on credit cards or committing to expensive mobile phone contracts, all in the name of the vulnerable individual. Not only does this leave the individual exposed to financial losses, and potentially being labelled as a fraudster when contracts are not honoured, but most importantly it can cause significant distress for individuals and those caring for them. The service can also help to protect vulnerable individuals from their own actions when they might apply for products or services without fully understanding the financial consequences of doing so.
How does it work?
The Protecting the Vulnerable service is a form of Cifas Protective Registration. Local authorities share details of their vulnerable clients with Cifas and we hold the data securely and confidentially in our National Fraud Database. We accept the details of individuals where the local authority acts as a Deputy or Appointee in terms of managing their financial affairs.
If our members receive an application for a product or service in the registered person’s name then our member will receive an alert informing them of the individuals’ vulnerable status and they will decline the application to protect the individual and prevent the fraud.
History of Protecting the Vulnerable
Developed in conjunction with the Court Deputy Department at Birmingham City Council, the service proved its’ worth in the early stages. Angela Small – Appointee & Court Deputy Officer, Birmingham City Council explains:
“Within two months of registering with Cifas, search alerts revealed two disturbing cases of attempted fraud both online and in person. We were then able to take immediate action to protect two vulnerable people from further exploitation. The Cifas protective register has proved to be highly effective and I would recommend this service to all local authorities.”
We are currently working with 15 local authorities and 1 health care trust, providing protection to more than 3,000 vulnerable adults.
Cifas is also working with The Association of Public Authority Deputies (APAD) and our service has been recommended as best practice to their members.