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Impersonation: the most feared fraud type reports CIFAS

By CreditMan Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A poll on the website of CIFAS – the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service has revealed that the fraud that most people fear is the use of their personal details to commit identity fraud.

When asked ‘To what kind of fraud are you most frightened of falling victim?’ respondents were given a choice of three responses – based upon the three most commonly seen types of fraud that can affect a victim’s financial wellbeing. From well over 300 individual responses, a clear ‘most feared fraud’ was identified.

Identity fraud attacks a sense of self

CIFAS Communications Manager, Richard Hurley, comments: “The use of someone’s personal details to obtain products or services in his or her name can have a profound effect upon those who have fallen victim. Not only is there the immediate financial impact, but victims have previously reported that the worst side effect is the time taken and inconvenience caused by trying to clear up the mess. Identity fraud also attacks one’s sense of self. Victims often tell CIFAS that they feel a sense of violation, and this is reflected in the results to this poll. Identity fraud is not only a financial crime but also presses some profound psychological buttons regarding intrusion, self image and individuality being compromised.”

Poll results are still surprising however

While identity fraud is something nobody would wish to experience, the surprise is the strength of fear about it; especially considering the impact that other types of fraud can have. Richard Hurley notes: “Those who have fallen victim to identity fraud are protected by regulations. These mean that, in most cases, the victim cannot be held liable for any accounts opened fraudulently in their name. As a result, many people’s experience of identity fraud actually results in no loss of money (even though they may lose sleep and calm as a result of trying to clear their name). What is surprising is that having an account taken over (which normally leads to an immediate loss of funds) or being duped into misusing your bank account fraudulently (which can lead to the withdrawal of banking services) are not as feared as identity fraud.”

“No fraud can ever be pleasant for the victim but, in the immediate and long term, being impersonated to obtain a new product or service can have far less serious consequences than other common types of fraud. What this indicates, therefore, is that organisations – both private and public sector – must equally calm those fears by explaining clearly to their customers how to avoid identity fraud (and what to do if it happens), and also explain just as clearly how the other fraud types happen and how to avoid them.”

CIFAS is the UK's Fraud Prevention Service with 270 Member organisations spread across banking, credit cards, asset finance, retail credit, mail order, insurance, investment management, telecommunications, factoring and share dealing and the public sector. Members share information on identified frauds in the fight to prevent further fraud. CIFAS is unique and was the first data sharing scheme of its type in the world. Other schemes modelled on CIFAS have been set up in Southern Africa and Germany.