Identity fraud has fallen for the first time since 2014 according to the latest figures from leading fraud prevention service Cifas.
The number of cases recorded by Cifas members in the first six months of 2018 fell by 5 per cent to 84,463 compared to 89,199 in the same period last year.
However, although there has been a reduction in the number of bank accounts being targeted and in attempts to obtain mobile phone contracts, down by 12 per cent and 34 per cent respectively, the number of fraudsters applying for plastic card accounts has risen by 12 per cent and the number of online retail accounts targeted is up by 24 per cent.
The vast 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 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 and surface 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.
Sandra Peaston, Director of Strategy, Policy and Insight at Cifas, said: ‘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. 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 continued: ‘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.’