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CIFAS figures reveal 60,000 identity crime victims in 2013

By CreditMan Thursday, June 20, 2013

The organisations sharing confirmed fraud data through CIFAS – the UK's Fraud Prevention Service – reveal nearly 60,000 cases where an individual became the victim of an identity crime during the first five months of 2013. This includes:

•Over 46,000 victims of impersonation (where an individual’s identity details were used by a fraudster to open a new account in his or her name), and
•More than 13,500 victims of takeover (where the individual’s existing account was broken into and hijacked).

Personal data continues to be a fraud enabler

Recent years have seen data-enabled identity crimes achieve a prominence that they have not had before. Nearly 96,000 confirmed frauds were recorded through CIFAS during the first five months of 2013, so 60,000 cases with a victim of identity crime underlines the true scale and human cost of fraud.

CIFAS Communications Manager, Richard Hurley, notes: “It is often said that fraud is victimless. With nearly 60,000 victims of impersonation or takeover fraud recorded between January and May 2013, this is shown to be blatantly untrue; not least because this figure represents well over half of all frauds recorded. What is perhaps most alarming, however, is the fact that these are the two types of fraud that most rely on criminals making use of the personal data about their victims – either to pass verification checks and impersonate them or bypass security steps and break into an account. This demonstrates conclusively just how valuable data can be to the modern fraudster.”

Fraud fears must usher in new attitude to data security

While victims of fraud are legally protected from being held liable for any losses experienced (provided that they have not been negligent), the scale of data driven identity crimes calls for a re-examination of attitudes towards personal data.

Richard Hurley comments: “While personal data is necessary to identify a person, or verify that they are who they claim to be, the scale of data-enabled identity crime signals that organisations and individuals must do more to raise awareness of how valuable our own data can be. Being careful about what information we have publicly viewable on social networking sites, ensuring that we all use full online protection packages and not using public wi-fi hotspots to conduct important transactions are just some basic steps that individuals can take to ensure that they protect themselves. Equally, organisations must take a stronger lead in encouraging and explaining how individuals can keep their data safe and secure while also examining their own ability to protect customer data from cyber hackers or data theft. As data-enabled fraud continues to grow in scale, it is time for all parties to realise that they have a part to play in staying safe online and elsewhere: otherwise, we are effectively leaving the keys to our personal finances in full view just waiting to be stolen.”

This press release is also available online: www.cifas.org.uk/identitycrimevictimnumbers_twentythirteen