The first six months of this year have seen further rises in the number of cases of identity fraud, according to fraud prevention service Cifas.
In total, 89,000 identity frauds were recorded during the period, up 5% from last year. Around 83% of these frauds were apparently perpetrated online.
The types of identity fraud that have seen the biggest increases include loan applications, online retail, telecoms and insurance products. There has been a fall in the number of identity frauds relating to bank accounts and plastic cards, but despite this they still account for over half of all cases of identity fraud.
Cifas explains that 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.
“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,” said Simon Dukes, Chief Executive of Cifas. “These frauds are taking place almost exclusively online. The vast amount of personal data that is available either online or through data breaches is only making it easier for the fraudster.”
Experian also recently conducted research into identity fraud, and found that younger generations are increasingly becoming targeted by this crime.
According to the study, the proportion of frauds against those under 30-years-old has risen by 6% since 2014, while those aged 50 and up have experienced a decrease of 8.4% over the same period.
The 60-plus cohort has experienced the sharpest decline in fraud attacks, falling by 5.8%. Experian suggests that this might be the result of them following advice on how to reduce their risks, such as monitoring their statements for suspicious activity and using a range of passwords online.
In 2014 17.1% of frauds were perpetrated against people aged 60 and over, but this year this has fallen to 11.2%, the biggest single movement of statistics related to age.
“Our statistics show young people are increasingly falling into the crosshairs of fraudsters, who see them as an easier target to open an account,” explained Nick Mothershaw, Director of Fraud and Identity Solutions at Experian. “They are more interested in getting an account open so they can use it for money laundering, or to establish a footprint at the bank for further fraudulent activity.”
If you have been charged with fraud related offences, or other criminal offences, then contact our specialist criminal defence lawyers today.