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Identity fraudsters enjoy prosperous year

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Are you a male in your mid 40s, residing in London? If so, you’re an identity fraudster’s prime target, according to Cifas’ annual fraud prevention report.

The report documents a significant rise in almost every form of fraud across the UK last year – overall recorded fraud rose by 25 per cent, with identity fraud contributing 40 per cent of that figure overall, a 5 per cent increase on the year prior. The study defined identity fraud as “criminal abuse of personal data or identity details to impersonate an innocent victim, or to create fictitious identities, to steal money.”

The UK’s largest cities were the country’s key hotspots for identity fraud – Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, London and Manchester all scored highly in regional rankings. The average age of an identity fraud victim is 46 – and men are almost twice as likely as women to have their identity stolen.

The report (viewable here in full) also records a significant increase in people aged 21-30 falling victim to identity fraud; rates among this group have risen by 52 per cent in the past four years, which the report attributes to “digitally savvy” generations using online financial products in far greater numbers than older generations.

However, silver surfers are becoming increasingly vulnerable to identity fraud too; last year, there was a 15 per cent rise in the number of identity fraud victims aged over 55. Over 55s are almost twice as likely to fall prey to identity fraud than someone in their 20s.

Other common forms of fraud included ‘misuse of facility fraud’ (paying via altered cheque or knowingly making a payment that will bounce), which made up just over 38 per cent of annual rise. ‘Application fraud’ (as the name implies, using someone’s personal data to apply for credit or a loan), and ‘facility takeover fraud’ (using personal data to commandeer the running of an existing account or product), also contributed to the total.

Simon Dukes, chief executive of Cifas, said the figures equated to “crime on an industrial scale”.

“The frauds we are recording point to increasingly sophisticated, predatory and organised criminals,” he concluded. “We need to redouble our efforts to fight fraud across sectors and to educate consumers and people of all ages.”

“The figures emphasise just how much of a threat fraud is to lenders and their customers,” commented Nick Mothershaw of Experian. “The threat could become even more pronounced as more people apply for financial products across multiple channels, including online and mobile, and digital banking becomes the norm.”

For more information on how to protect yourself and your financial assets from online fraud, please visit the Your Money guides ‘Top tips for protecting yourself online’ and ‘Cyber-attacks and you’.


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