Latest Cifas statistics chart drop in identity fraud for first time since 2014

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has released new figures showing that identity fraud has fallen for the first time since 2014. Cifas members recorded 84,463 cases in the first six months of the year, representing a 5% drop compared to the same period in 2017 (when the total stood at 89,199).

Despite the reduction, though, identity fraud still represents over half of all fraud recorded by the UK’s not-for-profit fraud data sharing organisation, with 87% of identity frauds perpetrated online.

The latest figures show there has been a reduction in the volume of bank accounts being targeted by identity fraudsters, with cases falling by 12% (2,882 fewer cases), and a 34% reduction in attempts to obtain mobile phone contracts (3,096 fewer cases). However the figures reveal a sharp rise in identity fraudsters applying for plastic card accounts, with cases increasing by 12% (3,454 more cases have been recorded). The figures also show that identity fraud against online retail accounts has risen by 24% (1,232 more cases).

The majority of identity fraud happens when a fraudster pretends to be an innocent individual to buy a product or open an account in their name. Victims may not even realise that they have been targeted until a bill arrives for something they did not buy or they experience problems with their credit rating.

To carry out this kind of fraud successfully, fraudsters need access to their victim’s personal information such as name, date of birth, address, their bank and details of with whom they hold accounts. Fraudsters access such detail in a variety of ways, from stealing mail through to hacking, obtaining data on The Dark Web, exploiting personal information on social media or though ‘social engineering’ (whereby innocent parties are persuaded to give up personal information to someone pretending to be from their bank, the police or a trusted retailer).

Circumventing security measures

Sandra Peaston, director of strategy, policy and insight at Cifas, said: “Identity fraud cases reached record levels in 2017. Therefore, it’s positive that we have seen an overall reduction in the first six months of the year. However, these new figures demonstrate that identity fraudsters adapt quickly to try and circumvent security measures. The re-targeting of plastic cards, following a drop in 2017, is a prime example of this.”

Peaston added: “With identity fraud remaining uncomfortably high, more personal information available online and increasing numbers of data breaches, the protection of personal data must be viewed as a collective responsibility. Everyone should play their part, from individuals and organisations taking steps to protect their own personal data through to businesses ensuring that their fraud prevention practices effectively defend against evolving tactics employed by identity fraudsters.”

Pauline Smith, head of the City of London Police’s Action Fraud team, highlighted: “This overall reduction in identity fraud is an encouraging step in the right direction for the fight against fraud. However, we would urge people to remain cautious when sharing their personal details. Fraudsters prey on vulnerability. The sharp rise in fraudulent applications for plastic card accounts means that it’s as vital as ever for people to continue protecting their personal details. You should check your banking statements carefully and report anything suspicious to the bank or financial service provider concerned.”

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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