Recession drives surge in identity fraud

ID theft: Big increase in victims
ID theft: Big increase in victims

Surges in the number of victims of impersonation during the first half of 2009 have been called “truly alarming” by CIFAS – the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service. Its members recorded over 52,000 victims in the first six months of the year, a rise of 43 per cent compared to the same period in 2008.

“The traditional focus on the ways in which fraudsters operate draws attention away from the number of fraud victims being recorded, and these figures surely underline the very real human cost of fraud in the recession,” says Richard Hurley, CIFAS communications manager.

Identity fraud rose by 74 percent overall, including both impersonation and the creation of fictitious identities. CIFAS has seen a return to “old school” methods, such as forged or altered UK passports to support fraudulent applications, alongside new methods.

Fraud trends typically reflect the economic cycle. However, CIFAS has seen a 25 per cent fall in application fraud where false information is used in applications for finance, insurance or products. Sharing of fraud data by the services’ members has also reduced the losses experienced by 11 per cent.

“Talk of an economic recovery may be premature but there is some good news. While fraud and fraudsters continue to wreak havoc on businesses and consumers alike, it is very reassuring to see that fraud departments are doing an excellent job in a period of unprecedented activity, accurately identifying frauds and preventing further losses,” says Hurley.

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