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Renters at risk in fraud rise

Fraudulent current account applications have contributed to an overall rise in fraud, according to the latest fraud statistics from the credit checking agency Experian. Criminals were behind 159 in every 10,000 current account applications in 2017, up from 138 in 2016 – a rise of 13pc. The rate of all frauds increased from 0.56pc to 0.6pc over the same period.

Renters are particularly vulnerable to fraudsters, the credit checking firm says, because their post is often left in communal areas or in mailboxes which can be accessed from the street. However, the firm’s figures show ‘a tale of two tenants’ with some more likely to be targeted than others.

The largest increase in third party fraud of any group over the last two years is among ‘Transient Renters’ (up 2.97pc), with current account fraud rising 4.82pc against this group. They are mainly aged 18 to 25, share private low-cost housing and move regularly. Peterborough, Darlington and Hull are among the locations with large groups of victims. Yet fraud has decreased 4.85pc over two years against people living in Rental Hubs, who are typically single, in their 20s and 30s and rent privately in cities and towns while early in their careers, or studying.

Peterborough is a hotspot for fraud for both groups of tenants, besides Hull, Grimsby and Luton. Meanwhile, locations in East Anglia such as Ipswich, Cambridge and Norwich are also common places for people living in Rental Hubs to fall victim to fraud. Those in the ‘Rental Hub’ space are also specifically targeted with 17.7pc of all the UK card fraud, over and above their numbers as a demographic.

Nick Mothershaw, Director of Identity and Fraud Solutions at Experian, said: “Fraudsters know renters can be easy targets and seek out flats where post is left lying around in hallways or on stairs. Even locked mailboxes aren’t necessarily secure if a fraudster can fish the post out, or find a copy of the key. It’s easy to imagine how ‘Transient Renters’ become victims of fraud. They tend to often change address and may find it hard to keep track of where their mail is being sent to. Fraudsters can take advantage of an old address knowing people won’t be monitoring their mail. Keeping an eye on the accounts on your credit report can help to foil fraudsters.”

Experian suggests that the elderly are becoming less of a target in recent years. There has been a 5.42pc decline from 2014 to 2017 of third party fraud against those aged 60 and above. By contrast, 20-24 year olds and 25-29 year olds have seen a 2.16pc and 2.5pc increase in third party fraud. Youngsters should be on their guard when it comes to automotive fraud, as the 25-29 and 30-24 age groups are the most targeted by this tactic.

Men remain more likely to become a victim of fraud, a consistent theme since 2014. Current account fraud affects men mostly, at 70pc versus women’s 30pc, and automotive fraud hits men rather than women 79pc of the time. Third party insurance particularly fraud heavily targets men, with 93pc of all cases.


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