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Cheshire town named top identity fraud hotspot

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Altrincham has become the top location for identity fraud in the UK outside certain parts of London, a study has found.

According to global information services company Experian, the town recorded 13 fraud attempts for every 10,000 adults, with residents targeted at over three times the national average of four in every 10,000 adults.

This compares with 11 attempts per 10,000 adults for London as a whole although there are areas of the capital with significantly higher rates of identity fraud.

Stretford, in Greater Manchester, also appears in the UK’s top ten target location for fraudsters committing identity theft.

London as a whole experienced 11 attempts for every 10,000 adults, but with significantly higher rates in some inner-city boroughs such as East Ham which recorded 27 fraud attempts for every 10,000 adults in 2012, the highest in the UK, with individuals targeted at almost seven times the national average.

Residents in Romford and Bexleyheath were also targeted at around five times the national average. Additional hotspots are to be found in the London commuter towns of Hatfield, Dartford and Camberley although the previous rise in fraud in Thames Valley and the Home Counties has slowed overall in 2012.

Nick Mothershaw, UK&I director of identity & fraud at Experian, said: “It comes as no surprise that the capital remains a target for third-party fraudsters – particularly around densely populated inner-city boroughs where identities are easier to steal.

“However, fraudsters are clearly attracted to rich pickings in more affluent areas, where access to an identity might be harder to obtain but the prize makes it worth the extra effort. In this respect, more affluent locations in close proximity to major cities such as Altrincham in Cheshire, Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, Hatfield and St Albans by London, have become key targets for identity thieves.

“Clearly identity theft is not just confined to inner-city areas but is a UK-wide problem and a symptom of tougher economic times, highlighting the need for people everywhere to be increasingly vigilant.”

The report highlighted that people who fall into the ‘new homemaker’ category, such as young couples living in starter homes on the outskirts of major towns and cities, typically with average incomes and a high demand for credit are more likely to fall into an identity fraud scam.

There is also a rise in people attempting to change their circumstances or hiding negative financial information about themselves to get better credit, which is called first party fraud.

Analysis reveals that London is still the leading location for first-party fraud with 19 cases per 10,000 adults with East Ham by far the worst with 78 cases per 10,000 adults. First-party fraud has risen in and around major UK cities including Birmingham, Manchester, London and Glasgow, and also in less affluent areas like West Bromwich, with 14 fraudulent applications recorded for every 10,000 adults.

Mothershaw added: “Our analysis of first-party fraud shows that, generally, it is those on low incomes, with thin or empty credit files, who are attempting to ease their financial position by misrepresenting applications or making exaggerated claims over their income and personal circumstances.

“However, a significant proportion of first-party fraud is now being perpetrated by the ‘Liberal Opinions’ Mosaic group. Typically these are young, well educated professionals living and working in London and other major cities.”


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