New data shows that identity fraud was the dominant fraud threat in the first quarter of 2015. 34,151 confirmed instances of identity fraud have been recorded by Cifas, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, representing a 27% increase from the same period of the previous year and accounting for just under half (47%) of all frauds recorded in Q1 2015.
Identity fraud occurs when criminals abuse personal data to impersonate an innocent victim or otherwise create fictitious identities in order to obtain products and services.
According to the latest Cifas Fraudscape report, recorded frauds increased by 5% in the first quarter of 2015 when compared with the same period last year. Further examination of the identity frauds recorded in the first three months of 2015 reveals:
*The number of recorded victims of identity fraud increased by 31%, from 24,482 to 32,058
*Credit cards (14,103 confirmed cases: 41% of all identity frauds) and bank accounts (9,349 cases: 27% of all identity frauds) are the identity criminals’ preferred targets
*Over 80% of all identity fraud in the first quarter of this year was either attempted or perpetrated online
*The average age for both male and female identity fraud victims is 46 years old
*Those in the 21-30 age range continue to be increasingly targeted: 3,970 people in this age range were targeted by identity criminals (16% of all identity fraud victims) representing a 26% increase from 2014
These trends are in line with the major findings identified in Cifas’ latest Fraudscape report. The data shows that the trends have been maintained so far this year, and that identity fraud remains the biggest reported fraud threat among Cifas’ members.
Most serious fraud threat
Speaking about the Fraudscape report, Simon Dukes (CEO at Cifas) commented: “Fraud figures fluctuate over time as fraudsters adapt and try new ways of achieving their aims. What these figures show is that identity fraud continues to be the most serious fraud threat. Also, the first quarter of the year has been a very profitable one for organised identity criminals.”
Dukes went on to state: “Our data is just the tip of the iceberg. More needs to be done to identify the true scale of fraud in the UK and educate individuals about the dangers and the steps they can take to protect themselves.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Clark from the City of London Police added: “Identity fraud is at the very heart of much of today’s criminality, acting as a key facilitator for a host of other types of offences. To prevent identity fraud from occurring we must all take responsibility for protecting our personal information, and particularly so when we’re active in the online space.”
Clark continued: “By following some simple procedures, such as creating strong passwords, protecting Internet connected devices with up-to-date security software and not sharing too much personal information online, it’s fair to say that we can make life much more difficult for the identity fraudsters and ensure fewer of us fall victim to what is a highly disruptive and upsetting form of criminality.”