Identity Theft Reaches 'Epidemic' Levels As Online Fraud Soars

All our personal information can be found online.

Identity fraud has now reached “epidemic” levels say the fraud prevention body Cifas after it was found nearly 500 cases are reported every single day.

The vast majority of these cases are happening online too with four in five taking place in cyber space.

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Statistics from Cifas show that 89,201 ID frauds were registered in the UK from January to June.

This figure is a 5% rise over the equivalent period in 2016 while 83% of the cases reported during that time period took place online.

Cifas chief executive Simon Dukes said: “We have seen identity fraud attempts increase year on year, now reaching epidemic levels.

“These frauds are taking place almost exclusively online. The vast amounts of personal data that is available either online or through data breaches is only making it easier for the fraudster.

“Criminals are relentlessly targeting consumers and businesses and we must all be alert to the threat and do more to protect personal information.

“For smaller and medium-sized businesses in particular, they must focus on educating staff on good cyber security behaviours and raise awareness of the social engineering techniques employed by fraudsters.

“Relying solely on new fraud prevention technology is not enough.”

Cifas said the latest figures show there has been a sharp rise in ID fraudsters applying for loans, online retail, telecoms and insurance products.

Although the number of attempts against bank accounts and plastic cards has fallen, these still account for more than half of all cases.

In the majority of scams, fraudsters pretend to be someone to buy a product or take out a loan in their name.

Often victims do not even realise that they have been targeted until a bill arrives for something they did not buy or they experience problems with their credit rating.

Fraudsters get hold of data such as names, dates of birth and addresses through a variety of routes including stolen mail, the dark web, hacking or exploitation of information on social media.

Another tactic is known as “social engineering” fraud, where perpetrators obtain their targets’ personal details by pretending to be from their bank, the police or a trusted retailer.

The new figures suggest people aged between 31 and 40 and 41 and 50 are most likely to fall victim to impersonation scams, with 18,916 and 18,338 cases in the two age groups respectively.

Regionally, London had the highest number of cases, with 26,177.