Fraud continues ‘inexorable’ rise in UK plc as new annual figures show 6% increase

Cifas, the UK’s fraud prevention service, has painted an alarming picture of fraud in the UK with the release of Fraudscape, the annual publication of the organisation’s data that identifies and analyses the country’s fraud trends based on 323,660 cases of fraudulent conduct recorded in 2018. The data, which emanates from over 470 organisations and includes major UK brands from across the sectors, is one of the most comprehensive pictures of fraud and fraudulent attempts in the UK.

With an overall increase of 6% in cases recorded by Cifas members, the new figures show significant areas of concern. Identity fraud has reached record highs with plastic cards taking the brunt of the fraud. Identity fraud significantly increased in 2018, with 189,108 cases recorded. That’s an 8% increase on 2017’s figures. Plastic cards were hit the hardest with 82,608 reports of fraud, up 41% from 2017. More fraud also means more victims – 19 out of 20 frauds involved a victim being left to pick up the pieces.

Cifas reports increases in identity fraud across all age groups, but particularly so the young and old. The number of victims aged 21 and under rose 26%, while the over-60s saw an alarming 34% increase on the previous year. As older people are more likely to be approved for credit and their online presence grows, fraudsters are increasingly targeting them online. In 2018, more than 33,000 over-60s were the victim of identity fraud.

Cases which are indicative of money mule activity are up across the board with a 26% increase from 2017. Cifas has seen a steep incline in those aged 40 to 60 becoming involved in such activity, with the numbers here increasing by 35%. This illustrates that being drawn into such criminality is not a problem limited to younger generations.

Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas, explained: “Fraud in the UK continues to rise and fraudsters are constantly finding new methods of committing fraud. From identity theft through to the use of the young and the naïve as money mules to launder money, the economic and social harm to the nation is growing. The only way to fight the threat is to combine communication and collaboration, working together to present a united front against the perpetrators. As no-one can expect to deliver an effective defence against ever-present threats without the full picture, Fraudscape remains a crucial weapon in the area of fraud prevention, allowing us to see where the current attacks are coming from and where future dangers lie.”

Brett Beranek, vice-president and general manager of the security and biometrics business at Nuance Communications, added: “Fraud is a huge issue today, both for people’s personal privacy and security, and also in terms of its impact on the economy. Fraud costs the UK’s economy over £100 billion per annum, demonstrating how much work still needs to be done to minimise the threat.”

Beranek continued: “By deploying technology such as biometrics, companies have prevented over £1 billion worth of customers’ money from falling into the wrong hands. When firms store knowledge credentials such as passwords in a centralised database, massive security breaches, whereby millions of accounts may be compromised, are then more likely. Biometrics offers a way out of this security vulnerability by storing biometric characteristics rather than the credential itself, eliminating the possibility of a massive security breach. We could eliminate these massive hacks entirely. It’s high-time that organisations address this issue once and for all.”

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 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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