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Identity Fraud Sees Massive Rise in 2014

March 25, 2015

If you are male, aged 46 and live in a sizeable city such as London, Leicester or Leeds you are more likely to be a victim of identity fraud than anyone else in the country, according to the annual report from the UK’s fraud prevention service, Cifas.

Recorded frauds increased by 25% in 2014, according to Cifas, with just over 40% of those due to identity fraud.

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The number of recorded cases of identity fraud, where criminals abuse personal data or identity details to impersonate and innocent victim or to create fictitious identities to steal money, was up 5% on 2013.

The average age of a victim is 46, with men almost twice as likely as women to have their identity stolen. The crime hotspots were identified as London, Birmingham, Leicester, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow.

Simon Dukes, Cifas chief executive, described the number of frauds as “crime at an industrial scale”.

“The frauds we are recording point to increasingly sophisticated, predatory and organised criminals,” he said. “We need to redouble our efforts to fight fraud across sectors and to educate consumers and people of all ages.”

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The report (pdf) also showed a sharp increase in the number of young adults falling victim to identity fraud. The number of victims aged between 21 and 30 has increased by 52% since 2011, a rise the report puts down to “digitally savvy young people” able to access many financial products for the first time.

There was also a 15% increase last year in the number of identity fraud victims over 55 from the year before. The over 55s are still almost twice as likely to fall prey to this type of crime than someone in their 20s.

Other types of fraud that add to the 25% overall annual rise include “misuse of facility fraud”, which includes things like paying in an altered cheque or knowingly making a payment that will bounce. Just over 38% of the total fraud figure was down to “misuse of facility”.

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Application fraud as well as “facility takeover fraud”, where a fraudster abuses personal data to hijack the running of an existing account or product, also contributed to the total.

“The figures released today emphasize just how much of a threat fraud still is to lenders and their customers, especially as more people apply for financial products across multiple channels, including online and mobile,” said Nick Mothershaw, director of identity and fraud at Experian.

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