Criminals a bit less interested in nicking Brits' identities this year

ID fraud drops to four-year low

New figures reveal UK identity fraud dropped during the first six months of 2018 to reach a four-year low.

Cifas members recorded 84,463 cases of identity fraud in the first six months of the year, a 5 per cent drop compared to the same period in 2017 (89,199). Despite the reduction, identity fraud still represents over half of all fraud recorded by the UK’s not-for-profit fraud data sharing organisation, with the vast majority (87 per cent) of identity frauds perpetrated online.

Reductions were also seen in fraudulent attempts to obtain bank accounts and mobile phone contracts. Fraudulent bank account opening scams fell from 24,759 in the first half of 2017 to 21,877 in the same period in 2018, a drop of 12 per cent. There was an even sharper 34 per cent reduction in attempts to obtain mobile phone contracts 6,000.

It's not altogether good news - both plastic card and online retail account fraud increased in the first six months of 2018.

Identity fraudsters applying for plastic card accounts rose 12 per cent from 29,851 in January to June 2017 to 33,305 in the first half of 2018. Identity fraud against online retail accounts rose by 24 per cent to reach 6,329 in 1H '18.

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Identity fraud happens when a fraudster poses as an innocent individual to buy a product or open an account in their name. Victims may not even realise they have been targeted until a bill arrives for something they did not buy or they experience problems with their credit rating. Fraudsters need access to their victim’s personal information such as name, date of birth, address, existing bank account etc in order to impersonate victims.

Fraudsters get hold of this info in a variety of ways, from stealing mail through to hacking, obtaining data on the dark and surface web, exploiting personal information on social media, or though social engineering – where victims are tricked into handing over personal information to someone pretending to be from their bank, the police or another trusted party.

Sandra Peaston, director of strategy, policy and insight at Cifas, said the figures show ID fraudsters are switching tactics.

“Identity fraud cases reached record levels in 2017, therefore it is positive that we have seen an overall reduction in the first six months of the year," she said. "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."

She 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 personal data to businesses ensuring their fraud prevention practices effectively defend against evolving tactics employed by identity fraudsters."

Cifas's data comes from identity fraud cases that have been recorded on the National Fraud Database by more than 400 organisations.

The number of victims aged under 21 in Cifas' figures rose from 1,012 in 1H17 to 1,309 in 1H18. The number of victims aged over 60 increased 8 per cent to 14,261. The ages of victims is not universally recorded in all cases so these figures are less than definitive. ®

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