Incidents of identity fraud in the UK grew by as much as 8 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year and touched 190,000 for the first time ever, Cifas, the UK’s national identity prevention service has revealed in its latest report.
According to Cifas' Fraudscape 2019 report, while overall incidents of identity fraud in the UK increased by 8% compared to 2017, rising from 174,523 cases to 189,108 cases in the period, London continued to remain the identity fraud hotspot- accounting for 53,016 incidents of fraud followed by the South East with 26,597 incidents.
An alarming statistic in Cifas' Fraudscape 2019 report is that the targeting of plastic cards by fraudsters registered an increase of 41 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year. The report also indicated that fraudsters are most inclined towards targeting those over 60 years of age, with over 33,000 people over the age of 60 becoming victims of impersonation fraud in 2018.
"The substantial increase in the targeting of older people for identity fraud is a real cause for concern," said Cifas, adding that many individuals over the age of 60 are new to the online world and it is easy for fraudsters to dupe them into sharing their personal and financial information over the Internet through phishing attacks and other methods.
"There is clearly a requirement to provide educational messaging properly tailored to, and targeted at, older age groups to help them recognise and protect themselves from the risks fraudsters pose. This will be key to helping older age groups to safeguard their personal information online," Cifas recommended while also noting that the number of victims over the 60 of 60 rose by 34 percent in 2018 over the previous year.
Under 21-year-olds also being targeted by fraudsters
Cifas also noted that the number of victims of identity fraud who are under the age of 21 also increased by a whopping 26 percent compared to the previous year. It said that considering people of younger age groups present less of a challenge when it comes to delivering appropriate prevention messages, such messaging should be made part of the national curriculum to reduce the chances of younger people falling for impersonation scams.
In a previous report published in October last year, Cifas had noted that the majority of fraud incidents in the first nine months of 2018 that victimised under-21s related to plastic payment cards such as bank, debit, credit or store cards. Identity fraud cases related to plastic cards formed over 34 percent of all fraud cases in the first nine months of 2018.
"Young people are increasingly at risk of becoming victims of identify fraud, with little idea of how to protect themselves. For all of us, as parents, teachers, and responsible citizens, we have a duty to ensure we’re taking every opportunity to educate young people on the dangers of becoming a fraud victim," said Mike Haley, Chief Executive Officer of Cifas.
Fraudsters scraping inactive social media profiles & breached records for PII
According to Cifas, a major source of information for identity fraudsters are a large number of social media profiles that are no longer in use but have not been deactivated or deleted. These profiles are often forgotten about but remain in the public domain and contain a wealth of personal information about citizens.
Even though older people are not very active on social media when compared to younger people, they are more likely to have had their email addresses leaked through data breaches, with digital newsletters being most likely sources of such breaches.
"Identity fraud has become easier to perpetrate than ever. Various factors – the shift to online banking, social media profiles laden with personal information, and regular data breaches – mean that our personal data is strewn across the web. It’s remarkably simple now for criminals to get hold of everything they need to hack accounts or make fraudulent bank or loan applications," said Mark Crichton, Senior Director of Security Product Management at OneSpan.
"Whilst it’s important that consumers are aware of just how readily available this information is, they shouldn’t have to shoulder the responsibility of protecting themselves. Banks and financial institutions must also do what they can to make things harder for criminals.
"In this day and age, banks must make use of new risk-based technologies and modern identity methods to spot suspicious transactions or new account openings. This gives them the ability to analyse multiple pieces of cross-channel data from different sources to make real-time security decisions and better manage their risk of fraud – especially for remote, faceless transactions," he added.
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