Fraud prevention service, Cifas has revealed that cases of identity rose by 18% in 2019 compared to the previous year – the highest ever increase recorded on the Cifas National Fraud Database.

Identity fraud occurs when a fraudster abuses personal data to impersonate an innocent party, or creates a fictitious identity, often to open a new account or obtain a product.

Identity fraud has been steadily rising over the last five years, with recorded cases in 2019 up a staggering 32% when compared to 2015. This type of fraud accounts for the majority – 61% – of all cases recorded to the National Fraud Database by Cifas members.

The large majority of identity fraud cases (42%) were committed to obtain a debit or credit card, closely followed by a bank account (22%), with almost all of these cases taking place online.

Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas, said “In an increasingly digital world, there is a growing need to improve the way we protect our personal information as we know that if it falls into the wrong hands, the consequences can be devastating.”

“One of the most common methods used to access people’s data is by sending an email or text pretending to be a bank or service provider. With this in mind, we need to be vigilant of who we share our information with, in the same way that service providers need to ensure that they are dealing with the right person and take all necessary actions to protect people’s personal information. Only by working together can we effectively take action against the growing problem of fraud.”

Reported Identity Fraud over the last five years:

Year Nos. of cases
2015 169,592
2016 172,918
2017 174,523
2018 189,108
2019 223,163