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Renters figure in fraud most

Young renters on low to middle incomes are the sorts of people most likely to fall victim to identity fraud. That is according to figures from Experian, the Nottingham-based credit checking company.

Experian’s Mosaic analysis finds single people in their 20s and 30s, living in rented accommodation, are the group most likely to become a victim of identity theft and almost twice as likely to be targeted than the national average. Of all criminal cases of identity theft uncovered between August 2013 and August 2014, almost one in five victims fell into this category (19 per cent).

Nick Mothershaw, UK and Ireland Director of Identity and Fraud at Experian, says: “Previously fraudsters focused on wealthy individuals who offered the richest pickings, but now young renters have also become prime candidates for identity theft. A key reason for this is that rented accommodation is often more easily accessible, and more likely to have shared hallways where it is easier to intercept post. In addition, there are a growing number of young renters as high property prices, especially in urban areas such as London, have meant that young people cannot afford to buy property. Also this group are prolific users of online services which means the opportunity for identity thieves to gain their personal information will only increase.”

However, affluent couples living in prestigious areas are also seeing their fair share of fraud, according to the company. Wealthy couples are the second most popular targets for ID thieves, accounting for 11 per cent of all identity theft recorded during 2014. These couples are particularly targeted for card and loan fraud, falling victim to 14 per cent of all fraudulent card applications and 17 per cent of all fraudulent loan applications made during 2014.

Nick Mothershaw adds: “Affluent couples are perhaps the most obvious target for identity thieves, who are enticed by the high pay-outs and credit limits this group have access to, with many fraudsters typically targeting wealthy couples to make bogus credit card and loan applications.”

Fraud hotspots

The company also identified locations considered prime targets for fraudsters. Regional analysis reveals that affluent areas in Greater London, such as Caversham, Beaconsfield, Hertford, Harlow, Brentwood, Maidstone, Crawley, Cobham, Leatherhead, Effingham and Ascot have proved prime locations for identity theft in 2014.

In the meantime, first party fraudsters are mostly concentrated in London, with analysis suggesting perpetrators are more likely to come from areas including Ilford, Croydon, Brixton, Bromley, Wembley, Edgeware, Hounslow and Romford. Areas outside of London, such as Luton, Slough and Dorchester, as well as rural areas in the North of England and the Highlands, also have some of the highest concentration of first party fraudsters.

Nick Mothershaw adds: “Tackling both identity theft and first party fraud needs to remain a top priority for financial services providers and each of us also need to be vigilant in how we protect our personal information as we go about our daily lives both on and off line. Making sure you are on the electoral role can really help lender verify your identity and protect you from any fraudulent applications attempted in your name. Ensure you shred all financial documents before discarding them and do not leave your mail lying around in shared hallways ready for the taking. To spot fraudulent activity at the earliest stage, before you suffer financial loss, keep a very close eye on your credit report and if you see any credit checks carried out for services you have not asked for – act quickly and ask your credit reference agency to investigate.

An identity fraudster will be looking for a variety of personally identifiable information about a victim to be able to commit fraud such as full name, date of birth, current address and even passwords or even PINs to their accounts. The firm points to an identity fraudster’s five most-wanted items as:

A bank statement — if fraudsters are really lucky it might indicate your overdraft limit as well as your full name, address and account number.
A credit card statement — this won’t contain your PIN, meaning they can’t use the card account in a British retailer, but it could be enough to buy from foreign websites.
Access to your social networking page — on social media sites, you might give away your date of birth and enough information for him or her to guess your PIN and passwords.
The security code on the back of your credit card — this is used to prove you are in possession of the card when you buy online or by mail or telephone order. Fraudsters who have managed to get hold of a name, address and card data are now calling or e-mailing people pretending to be security staff and asking for the code, which allows them up to steal even larger sums in more locations.
Your driving licence or passport — provides vital photographic ID that can be amended by an expert and used to prove that he or she is actually you.

The stats are based on August 2013 to August 2014 fraud data.


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