Fraud prevention service, Cifas has released new figures showing that identity fraud has continued to rise at record levels in the first six months of 2017.  A record 89,000 identity frauds were recorded, up 5% from last year. Representing over half of all fraud recorded by the UK’s not-for-profit fraud data sharing organisation, 83% of identity frauds were perpetrated online.

The latest figures show there has been a sharp rise in identity fraudsters applying for loans, online retail, telecoms and insurance products. Although the number of identity fraud attempts against bank accounts and plastic cards has fallen these still account for more than half of all identity fraud cases.

The vast majority of identity fraud happens when a fraudster pretends to be an innocent individual to buy a product or take out a loan in their name. Often victims do 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 who they hold accounts with. Fraudsters get hold of this 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’ where innocent parties are persuaded to give up personal information to someone pretending to be from their bank, the police or a trusted retailer.

Simon Dukes, Chief Executive, Cifas said “We have seen identity fraud attempts increase year on year, now reaching epidemic levels, with identities being stolen at a rate of almost 500 a day. These frauds are taking place almost exclusively online. The vast amounts of personal data that is available either online or through data breaches is only making it easier for the fraudster.

“Criminals are relentlessly targeting consumers and businesses and we must all be alert to the threat and do more to protect personal information. For smaller and medium-sized businesses, in particular, they must focus on educating staff on good cyber security behaviours and raise awareness of the social engineering techniques employed by fraudsters.  Relying solely on new fraud prevention technology is not enough.”

 *Table 1 – Identity fraud cases by product

 

Identity fraud cases by product Jan-June 2016 Jan-June

2017

% change
Bank Accounts 28,872 24,759 -14.2%
Plastic Cards 33,939 29,852 -12.0%
Loans 7,472 11,499 53.9%
Insurance 20 2,070 10250.0%
Telecoms 5,661 9,097 60.7%
Online Retail 3,271 5,097 55.8%

*Table 2 – Age breakdown of victims of impersonation

  Jan-June

2016

Jan-June 2017 % change
<21                    684 1,023 49.6%
21-30              11,646 12,302 5.6%
31-40              18,638 18,916 1.5%
41-50              18,086 18,338 1.4%
51-60              15,277 15,940 4.3%
>60              14,172 13,294 -6.2%

*Table 3 – Regional breakdown of victims of impersonation

Region Jan-June 2016 Jan-June 2017 % change
East 9365 8673 -7%
East Midlands 4743 4647 -2%
London 26927 26177 -3%
North East 1618 1968 22%
North West 8597 7556 -12%
Scotland 2694 3507 30%
South East 11743 12721 8%
South West 3065 3839 25%
Wales 1727 1696 -2%
West Midlands 5600 7355 31%
Yorkshire and the Humber 5066 6069 20%