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Bank fraud rises 10% in 2009

New report reveals high risk of identity fraud
Inland Revenue warns of online scam

New data has revealed that the level of bank account fraud in the UK rose by almost 10% in 2009.

According to CIFAS, the UK’s fraud prevention service, 80,105 cases of bank account fraud were filed in 2009 – compared with 72,988 cases in 2008. This increase contributes to the overall rise in identity fraud recorded by CIFAS, which saw the number of incidents increase by 32% last year.

The organisation’s ‘Fraudscape’ report points out that the 9.75% increase in bank account fraud almost perfectly mirrors a 9.98% year-on-year decline in plastic card fraud. CIFAS suggests this is evidence of fraudsters’ ability to adapt their tactics, turning their attentions from one type of financial product to another when they need to.

Online fraud

The report from CIFAS also indicates that a huge proportion of identity frauds are committed through the World Wide Web. It states: ‘Identity fraudsters prefer to make their applications over the internet, where there is a distance between them and their crime.’

Over 74% of identity frauds were committed online in 2009, while 76% of the incidents involving criminal control of people’s bank accounts were also perpetrated via the internet.

Identity theft – without address fraud

Worryingly, CIFAS data also shows there was general increase in ‘current address fraud’ during 2009. Current address fraud is where an identity thief applies for credit in the name of a victim but uses their real address, rather than a fake or previous address, on the forms.

Fraud of this type has a greater chance of success because the credit application is likely to look ‘normal’ to a lender, CIFAS says.

According to its report, current address fraud is often the preserve of more sophisticated, organised criminals or gangs.

Identity fraud protection

Which? Money editor James Daley said: ‘Once again, the statistics emphasise that it’s important to be cautious about keeping our identities safe and secure.

‘Keeping a constant eye on your bank statements and credit card bills, checking your credit file regularly and shredding all your personal documents before you throw them away can all help to protect your finances from fraud.’

To learn more about how protecting yourself from identity fraud, check out the How to beat identity fraud advice guide. You can also see how different banks’ online security systems rate in our Online banking security review, and pick up tips for protecting your internet accounts in the Protecting your online accounts advice guide.

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