Identity fraud hits all time high – young people growing target

Identity fraudsters are increasingly targeting young people, according to a report from Cifas.

Almost 25,000 victims of fraud were aged under 30, with the number of under-21s defrauded rising by a third. The number of under-21s being defrauded rose from 1,343 in 2015 to 1,803 in 2016.

The report – recording statistics from 277 banks and businesses – highlighted that identity fraud reached record levels in 2016.

The criminal activity has never been so prevalent (since records began in 2013). The number of frauds in 2016 reached almost 173,000, up nearly 100,000 from 2008.

>See also: The seven types of e-commerce fraud explained

As consumers becomes more dependent on digital services and online banking – as an example – online fraudsters have taken advantage. There is a clear correlation, although Cifas has said more people need to be more vigilant about protecting their personal data.

Cifas deputy chief executive Mike Haley said better education around fraud and financial crime was essential in tackling this problem.

“With nine out of 10 identity frauds committed online and with all age groups at risk, we are urging everyone to make it more difficult for fraudsters to abuse their identity.”

“We all remember to protect our possessions through locking our house or flat or car but we don’t take the same care to protect our most important asset – our identities.”

City of London Police Commander Chris Greany, who is national co-ordinator for economic crime, said: “With close to half of all crime now either fraud or cyber crime we all need to make sure we protect our identity.”

“Identity fraud is the key to unlocking your valuables. Things like weak passwords or not updating your software are the same as leaving a window or door unlocked.”


Tim Ayling, director EMEA fraud and risk intelligence RSA, believes that “ruthless cybercriminals” are to blame, and urges the use of burner cards in order to mitigate the risks of identity and credit card fraud online.

>See also: Met police chief tells banks to stop refunding online fraud victims

“The CIFAs report quantifies something that is already painfully clear, fraud is everywhere. Make no mistake, the internet is the single biggest contributing factor today. People spend so much of their time online and many do so while leaving a trail of personal information behind them – with little or no regard to security or privacy. Cybercriminals are well adept at following this trail of breadcrumbs back to their target, and ruthless when it comes to using this information against them for financial gain.”

“Credit card fraud alone is a multibillion pound a year problem. Credit card numbers are everywhere. If you use your card for online shopping, then it is inevitable that at least one merchant will be storing card details with weak or no encryption. Large scale data compromises mean that stolen credit card numbers can be bought in the cyber underground for as little as £1 per card. With this in mind, I strongly urge anyone to have a dedicated online shopping ‘burner’ card, without direct debits attached. This might sound like something from the Wire, but it saves the hassle of updating bills in the unexceptional event your card is compromised.”

“Incoming regulations such as PSD2 are there to reduce card fraud rates, but improving collaboration between merchants and banks has enormous potential to reduce online fraud as well. Both parties have access to discrete data which, if shared, would make fraud detection far more effective.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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