One in six deceased individuals (16 per cent) have their identities stolen by fraudsters, according to research by deceased fraud prevention service Halo. Equivalent to 80,000 instances each year, it is believed the real figure could be much higher due to under-reporting or lack of discovery.
Chris Worsley, product director of Halo, says: “Increased vigilance from UK businesses and organisations is vital, not only in terms of complying with policies, such as FSA’s Money Laundering regulations, but also of reducing the strain on the economy, protecting your own business and finally reducing the stress of the victims – bereaved individuals that will eventually be contacted by debt collectors.”
Fraudsters collect information via obituary columns, media stories and other public data sources. Using deception, they gain access to direct mail intended for the deceased and apply for products and services in their name, typically credit cards, loans, pensions, mortgages, catalogue items and subscription services like pay TV.
One of the biggest areas of fraud is the continued collection of pensions on behalf of deceased persons. Pension funds are estimated by BDO Stoy Hayward to be making paymens to around 70,000 dead pensions with an annual loss of £200 million. Recession is increasing the rate of identity fraud, with CIFAS identifying a 40 per cent rise in Q1 2009 compared to the same period in 2008 for both facility takeover fraud and false insurance claims.