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Identity fraud cases up 12 per cent

Experts speak of 'worrying escalation'


A closeup of a fountain pen.

Cases of identity fraud in the first quarter of this year were up 12 per cent on 2006, according to the latest figures.

Fraud prevention service CIFAS said its members detected 21,122 cases of personal data theft and other impersonation frauds between January and March.

Application fraud – in which people lie in order to obtain credit, insurance or other products – saw an ever sharper rise, up 22 per cent annually.

Figures from CIFAS members, including banks and building societies, showed that instances of ‘facility hijacking’ in which fraudsters obtain access to an existing policyholder’s account and uses it for their own benefit was up by more than a third.

Victim’s current address

But the scale of the problem is lower than that of identity or application fraud, CIFAS said.

Latest data from the service revealed that identity fraud using a victim’s current address has risen by 44 per cent year-on-year and now represents 60 per cent of cases.

In all, members of CIFAS avoided financial losses in the region of £94,000 every hour in the first quarter of 2007 by detecting and reporting suspected fraud, compared with £74,000 per hour in the same period last year.

‘Alarming scale’

Peter Hurst, Chief Executive of CIFAS, said: ‘These quarterly figures show a worrying escalation in many types of financial fraud.

‘The surge in current address fraud is of particular concern, because in order to perpetrate it, the fraudster effectively needs a perfect data set, which suggests that fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated in their methods, and are accessing more data about victims.

‘The good news, of course, is the fact that CIFAS members, by detecting and recording frauds, denied fraudsters during this quarter a total of £94,000 every hour of the day.

‘But the scale of fraudulent activity is alarming. It emphasises the need for businesses constantly to be alert when dealing with applications.’

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