ID-stealing scammers had a bumper start to the year, reveals report

25 per cent rise in identity fraud in first 3 months of 2015

Incidences of identity fraud in the UK rose by more than 25 per cent in the first quarter of 2015, a new report has revealed.

In total, 34,151 confirmed instances of identity fraud were recorded in the first quarter of 2015, a 27 per cent increase from Q1 2014.

Identity fraud is when criminals abuse personal data to impersonate an innocent victim or to create fictitious identities to obtain products or services such as loans from banks or kit from tech suppliers.

The latest figures from the UK fraud prevention service, Cifas, reveal that identity fraud made up half (47 per cent) of all frauds recorded in the first three months of 2015.

The number of recorded victims of identity fraud increased by 31 per cent, from 24,482 to 32,058. Credit cards (14,103 confirmed cases – 41 per cent of all identity frauds) and bank accounts (9,349 cases – 27 per cent of all identity frauds) are the identity criminals’ preferred targets. And the vast majority (80 per cent) of all identity fraud in the first quarter was attempted or perpetrated online.

In a statement, Simon Dukes, Cifas chief executive, commented: "Identity fraud continues to be the most serious fraud threat and that the first quarter of the year has been a very profitable one for organised identity criminals. Our data is just the tip of the iceberg. More needs to be done to identify the true scale of fraud in the UK and educate individuals about the dangers and the steps that can be taken to protect themselves.”

More of identity fraud – and top tips for guarding against becoming a victim – can be found on the Cifas website here.

Richard Parris, chief of cyber-security company Intercede, blamed the rise in fraud on a familiar suspect – poor passwords and security practices.

"The sharp rise in identity theft in the UK over the last year is a direct result of the widespread lax security procedures seen as consumers and companies alike persevere with outdated username and password-based authentication," Parris argues. "This already porous level of security is then made even less effective by the continued use of basic password combinations, which are then used for multiple logins."

"The fact is that multiple complex passwords are difficult to remember and so inherently insecure. Much safer (and easier to use) two-factor authentication technologies are available, already deployed in high-security applications and could be much more widely implemented," he added. ®

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