May 28th 2015
New data shows that identity fraud was the dominant was the principal kind of fraud perpetrated in the UK in the first three months of this year. 34,151 confirmed instances of identity fraud were recorded in the period representing a massive 27% increase from the same period of the previous year, and accounting for just under a half (47%) of all frauds recorded in the first quarter. Significantly, over 80% of all identity fraud was attempted or perpetrated online.
Identity fraud takes place when criminals abuse personal data to impersonate an innocent victim or to create fictitious identities to obtain products and services.
Recorded frauds increased by 5% in the first quarter of this year (compared with 2014), according to the latest figures from Cifas, the UK fraud prevention service.
Further examination of the identity frauds recorded in the first three months of 2015 reveals:
– The number of recorded victims of identity fraud increased by 31%, from 24,482 to 32,058.
– Credit cards (14,103 confirmed cases – 41% of all identity frauds) and bank accounts (9,349 cases – 27% of all identity frauds) are the identity criminals’ preferred targets.
– Over 80% of all identity fraud in the first quarter was attempted or perpetrated online.
– The average age for both male and female identity fraud victims is 46 years old.
– Those in the 21-30 age range continue to be increasingly targeted – 3,970 people in this age range were targeted by identity criminals (16% of all identity fraud victims): a 26% increase over 2014.
These findings are in line with the major findings identified in Cifas’ Fraudscape report (published 25 March). The latest data shows that these trends have been maintained so far this year and that identity fraud remains the biggest fraud threat amongst Cifas members.
Simon Dukes, Chief Executive of Cifas, commented: “Fraud figures fluctuate over time, as fraudsters adapt and try new ways of achieving their aims. What these figures show is that identity fraud continues to be the most serious fraud threat and that the first quarter of the year has been a very profitable one for organised identity criminals. Our data is just the tip of the iceberg – more needs to be done to identify the true scale of fraud in the UK and educate individuals about the dangers and the steps that can be taken to protect themselves.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Clark, from the City of London Police, said: “Identity fraud is at the heart of much of today’s criminality, acting as a key facilitator for a host of other types of offences. To stop this from happening we must all take responsibility for protecting our personal information, especially when working and playing online. By following some simple procedures, such as creating strong passwords, protecting internet connected devices with up-to-date security software and not sharing too much personal information online, we can make life much more difficult for the identity fraudsters and ensure fewer of us fall victim to what is a highly disruptive and upsetting crime.”