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Mapped: are you living in an ID fraud hotspot?

Find out about 'takeover' fraud and why more people are falling victim to it

Fraud involving criminals taking hold of your bank account, credit card or email account and using them to steal your money has soared over the past year, fraud prevention body Cifas has warned.

Dubbed ‘facility takeover’ fraud, it involves criminals ‘posing as a genuine customer to gain control of an existing account and using it for their own ends’, Cifas said, including spending or withdrawing money, ordering or upgrading products such as expensive smartphones.

This type of identity fraud rose by 45% in 2016, with more than 22,000 – 6.7% of the 325,000 fraud cases reported – falling victim to it. Figures from Financial Fraud Action suggest that consumers lost £24m to takeover fraud last year.

Cifas has also revealed the nation’s ID fraud hotspots. While a third of all fraud was recorded in London, the highest proportion of ID fraud was recorded in the south east of England, as the map below shows.

How does takeover fraud work?

Half of takeover fraud takes place over the phone, whereas 88% of ID fraud takes place online. This means that criminals are increasingly targeting people directly to trick them into handing over their personal details.

They might start with some basic information, found on social media or openly available sources – or sometimes through data breaches.

Then, they may call, posing as your bank or a service provider, trying to prise more sensitive details, such as account numbers or login details.

Once they’ve conned you into revealing more of your personal information, Cifas says criminals then ‘go on to call the bank, phone retailer, or service provider armed with enough information to convince call centre staff that they are their genuine customer.’


Facility takeover fraud in numbers

  • 50% carried out over the phone
  • 61% of victims are men; 39% women
  • The highest number of victims were aged between 40 and 50
  • Takeover fraud on bank accounts has risen by 12.7%

More must be done to tackle fraud

Simon Dukes, from Cifas, said that organisations prevented £1bn worth of fraud last year but warned that criminals are increasingly targeting victims through ‘old-fashioned but highly-effective con artistry.’

He says that the ‘proliferation of personal data that is available either online or through data breaches only makes this easier’, and has called on the government to make fraud education part of the national curriculum and said that tackling fraud should be prioritised by the police.

Which? believes that educating consumers is not the only solution and that there is only so much people can do to protect themselves, as fraudsters find new tactics to persuade them to part with their money.

Alex Neill, managing director of home services, said: ‘Banks and businesses should be doing more to identify potential scams, and ensure that their security systems are being improved to prevent fraud taking place.’

‘The next Government needs to commit to an ambitious agenda for tackling fraud, with action to improve how customer data is kept safe and ensure that financial institutions do more to protect consumers from scams.’

Are you putting yourself at risk of fraud?

Which? research has found that people could be exposing themselves to fraud risk by making basic mistakes with their personal security.

Two thirds (67%) of consumers use the same password across multiple accounts, while more than one in four (28%) are on the open electoral register, leaving their details publicly available.

We’ve developed a test to help you discover your fraud risk score and the steps you can take to protect yourself.


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