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500 identities stolen a day in ID fraud ‘epidemic’

Almost 90,000 cases of fraud recorded in the past six months

Identity fraud has reached ‘epidemic’ levels, according to fraud prevention service Cifas, with almost 500 cases of ID fraud a day being reported in the first six months of the year.

There were 89,000 cases of identity frauds recorded between January and June 2017, up 5% on the previous year – a record high. More than four in every five (83%) cases of identity fraud were perpetrated online.

Cifas’ figures suggest a sharp rise in fraudsters applying for loans, telecoms and insurance products, although the majority fraud attempts have been against bank accounts and credit cards.

The fraud body said that the ‘vast majority of identity fraud happens when a fraudster pretends to be an innocent individual to buy a product or take out a loan in their name. Often victims do not even realise that they have been targeted until a bill arrives for something they did not buy or they experience problems with their credit rating.’

Indeed, yesterday we reported the story of a company director who fell victim to ID fraud an incredible 29 times.

West Midlands and Scotland see surge in ID fraud

Cifas’ data suggests that while London remains the capital for ID fraud, with more than 26,000 cases reported in the first half of the year, the West Midlands and Scotland have seen 30% increases over the past six months

This follows an investigation carried out by Which? research in June, which revealed the fraud capitals of the UK.

The majority of victims are aged between 31 and 40, but as the table below shows, the number of victims aged under 21 has doubled in the past year, albeit from a low base.

Age of victim Number of victims of impersonation % change between 2016 and 2017
Under 21 1,023 49.60%
21-30 12,302 5.60%
31-40 18,916 1.50%
41-50 18,338 1.40%
51-60 15,940 4.30%
Over 60 13,294 -6.20%
Source: Cifas

Research published by Experian this week also found that the proportion of frauds carried out against under 30s has risen by 6% since 2014.

What is Cifas?

if you’ve been a victim of fraud, you can pay for Cifas’ ‘Protective Registration’. This will place a flag alongside your name and personal details in their secure anti-fraud database, and helps retailers see you’re at extra risk of fraud and prompt to take extra steps to verify your identity.

Applying for financial products and services might take a little longer, as companies may see the flag and request further details, but you can be reassured that your details are being protected. Registration costs £20 and lasts for two years.

Huge spike in insurance ID fraud

Incidents of insurance ID fraud have reportedly risen from just 20 cases last year to more than 2,000.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau, which captures and shares information on insurance fraud, said that while the amount lost to insurance fraud (£1.3bn) has fallen over the past year, the rise could be attributed to an increase in ‘application’ fraud and people buying cheap or fake insurance from ‘ghost brokers’.

Ghost brokers tend to advertise online, on social media and popular selling websites, offering people the opportunity to get cheap insurance. They impersonate the person looking for cover and fraudulently apply for insurance with inaccurate and misleading information to reduce the cost of cover. Sometimes, ghost brokers produce fake policy documents to sell insurance to a consumer.

Ben Fletcher, director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau, said that a third of all open investigations the body is conducting are concerning ghost brokers and application fraud. The Bureau has a ‘cheat line’ which allows people to report potentially fraudulent insurance brokers and dodgy practices.

The Association of British Insurers stated that ‘using someone else’s details to try to save money on a policy, or to sell fraudulent insurance policies… are both crimes which come with serious consequences’, and that the insurance industry was involved in a number of initiatives to combat fraud and ‘help keep prices down for the majority of honest customers.’

Take Which?’s fraud risk quiz

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