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CIFAS reveals ‘bleak’ fraud figures

168,000 fraud cases confirmed so far in 2010

ID Fraud

Be on your guard against fraudsters 

New statistics from CIFAS, the fraud prevention service, reveal that almost 168,000 confirmed cases of fraud were recorded in the first nine months of 2010. The latest data paints a ‘bleak and complex’ picture of the reality of fraud in the UK, the organisation has said.

While the number of fraud cases confirmed in the first three quarters of the year is down 4.5% compared with the same period in 2009, it still represents a 6% increase in fraud since the end of September 2008.

Richard Hurley, CIFAS communications manager, commented: ‘Any decrease in the level of fraud recorded by CIFAS members is to be warmly greeted – but the enthusiasm for a reduction in the overall level of fraud must be reined in.’

ID fraud and facility takeover fraud

According to CIFAS, facility takeover fraud – where a criminal secretly hijacks and plunders a victim’s accounts – remains a significant problem. There were 16,000 fraud cases of this kind in the first three quarters of the year, a slight decrease on the same period in 2009. Nevertheless, facility takeover fraud has increased by a staggering 231% since 2007.

Meanwhile, identity fraud – where individuals are impersonated by fraudsters who apply for credit or buy products using stolen personal details – affected more than 70,000 people in the first nine months of this year. The number of ID fraud cases in the first three quarters of 2010 was 17.5% higher than during the same period last year.

Elsewhere, CIFAS has revealed that the type of products fraud is focused upon has shifted over the past few years. Communications services and mail order accounts are increasingly popular targets, according to its data.

In part, CIFAS says, this could be due to banks and credit card companies’ tighter lending criteria, which since the credit crunch has meant that fewer applications for credit are approved. As well as depriving some honest customers of credit, this may also be preventing fraudsters from borrowing money under false pretences.

Fraud prevention and protection

Which? Money editor James Daley said: ‘Statistics like these make for grim reading, and underline the importance of being vigilant with your personal details. Read the Which? guides to Protecting yourself from ID fraud and Keeping personal details safe online to ensure you’re doing the right things.

‘Don’t let frightening figures scare you into buying identity fraud cover, however. Our expert researchers say it rarely offers good value for money, and have even come up with five reasons why you shouldn’t buy ID theft insurance.

‘Being careful is the best way to prevent fraud from affecting you – but if the worst does happen, there are rules in place to help ensure you won’t be liable for someone else’s spending.’

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