An Eye on ID

Posted On 18 Apr 2017
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Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI: Editor of Risk UK

Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI: Editor of Risk UK

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has issued new figures showing that identity fraud has hit the highest levels ever recorded. A record 172,919 episodes of such fraud were noted in 2016. Identity fraud now represents over half of all fraud chronicled by the UK’s not-for-profit fraud data sharing organisation, of which 88% was perpetrated online.

In recent years, Cifas has been informed of growing numbers of young people falling victim to ID fraud. That upward trend continued last year with almost 25,000 victims aged under 30. In particular, there has been a 34% increase in the number of under 21s subjected to ID fraud. On that basis, Cifas is again calling for better education around fraud and financial crime and urging youngsters to be vigilant about protecting their personal data.

2016 also saw a rise in the number of ID fraud victims aged over 40, with 1,869 more victims recorded by Cifas members.

Mike Haley, deputy CEO at Cifas, explained: “These new figures show that identity fraud continues to be the foremost fraud threat. With nine out of ten identity frauds committed online and all age groups presently at risk, we’re urging everyone to make it more difficult for the fraudsters to abuse individual identities. There are three simple steps that anyone can take to protect themselves: use strong passwords, download software updates when prompted to do so and avoid the use of public Wi-Fi for banking and online shopping.”

Haley continued: “We all remember to safeguard our valued possessions through locking our house or car, but we don’t always take the same care to protect our most important asset – our identities. We all need to assume responsibility for securing our mail boxes, shredding documents like bank statements and utility bills and taking sensible precautions online. If not, we’re simply making ourselves a target for the identity fraudsters.”

Commander Chris Greany, national co-ordinator for economic crime, commented: “These latest Cifas figures demonstrate how we all need to be alert to preventing identity theft now more than ever before. We do everything we can in order to stop the identity thieves in the fight against fraud, but it must be said that the key to success is both prevention and protection.”

With instances of identity fraud set to rise, businesses and consumers alike simply must take action to address this damaging issue. Financial services companies should strengthen the security systems they have in place and the way in which they verify identities, and especially so for online transactions.

Businesses need to invest in biometric processes designed to validate identities, at the same time implementing multi-layer approaches that challenge fraudsters’ attempts to compromise systems. “Myriad consumers are embracing biometrics in their everyday lives, for example by using them to access their smart phones,” observed John Marsden, head of identity and fraud at Equifax. “Financial services companies can maximise such technology to protect their customers and their businesses.”

Certainly, the worrying knowledge gap exhibited by too many consumers when determining safe places in which to share their personal information must be plugged sooner rather than later.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014.