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This article has been prepared by Cifas, the not for profit member association with over 25 years’ experience in preventing financial crime and internal fraud. It highlights the fact that no-one is immune from identity fraud and offers advice on how to minimise the risk of becoming a victim.
Identity fraud is not a victimless crime. Its consequences can be life-changing.
But perceptions of identity fraud don’t always reflect the impact it can have. Many people don’t understand what it is, much less how to guard against it. And the threat isn’t just personal – organisations and businesses can be targeted by criminals looking for the information they need to commit identity crime.
Identity fraud is when fraudsters use personal information to apply for products and services in a victim’s name – such as bank accounts, credit cards, loans and mobile phones – or create fictitious identities to achieve this. Cifas figures show that identity fraud is, and continues to be, the dominant fraud threat, accounting for just under half (47%) of all frauds recorded in the first quarter of 2015.
Cifas research shows that over 80% of fraud is committed online, and also that fraud is increasingly organised.
It’s a common myth that only older and well-off people are targeted but the reality is that anyone can be a victim. So while the average age of a victim of identity fraud is 46, it is young people aged 18-24 who are the fastest growing age group to be targeted by fraudsters. And older age groups (age 55+) are still vulnerable, with the number of victims continuing to rise. Scams are widespread, primarily to steal money from people but also to steal personal data. They target a range of lifestyle areas: from pensions and holidays to mortgages and online shopping.
Organisations and businesses are not immune. The information they hold on customers and clients is a target, no matter what the size of the business. External threats include cyber-attacks to access company systems, corporate identity fraud where the fraudster accesses products or services in the name of the company (often registering as a Director or impersonating a Director) and ‘phishing or vishing’, where staff are tricked into downloading malware or handing over sensitive information through scam emails and phone calls.
Internally, threats can include organised gangs infiltrating organisations to steal data or process fraudulent applications; corrupting or threatening staff to take part in these criminal activities; and the theft or loss of consumer data or bank data by employees.
Because anyone can be a victim, the need for education on identity fraud and how to prevent it is increasingly apparent. Below are some steps that can be taken to minimise the risk.
For more information on Cifas Membership and how our products and services help protect organisations from fraud, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on how individuals can protect themselves against identity fraud, visit www.cifas.org.uk/stayunique