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Victims of fraud

There were nearly 100,000 cases of an individual falling victim to identity criminals in the first nine months of 2013. That is according to CIFAS – a UK trade body. CIFAS points to a continuing battle faced by organisations and individuals against fraudsters misusing identity details.

Just over half, 51pc of all confirmed fraud is identity fraud – further underlining the importance of identity details to organised criminals, CIFAS says.

In spite of this, frauds recorded through CIFAS have decreased by 14pc, which the trade body says should be considered alarming news for many organisations. CIFAS Communications Manager Richard Hurley says: “There have been nearly 100,000 frauds with an identifiable victim recorded through the CIFAS system during 2013 so far. While this is a reduction from last year’s figure, this is still nearly equal to the number of victims recorded in the whole of 2010. This further underlines what CIFAS has commented upon for many years: that a person’s identity details are now the key enabler for the modern fraudster and that identity crimes are not going away.

“Fraud is far from a victimless crime: not only do victims have an immediate financial cost but they also have to contend with the time taken to sort the mess out and the worry caused by not knowing how the fraudster managed to steal their details.”

Identity crimes still the majority

Identity fraud (where a fraudster impersonates an individual in order to gain products and services – or uses a completely fictitious identity) accounted for 51pc of all fraud recorded through the CIFAS National Fraud Database in the first nine months of 2013. Also, facility or account take-overs (where a fraudster hijacks the running of an account – such as makes unauthorised withdrawals) accounted for nearly 15pc of all frauds. This means, once again, that two out of every three frauds identified and recorded through CIFAS systems are data driven identity crimes.

Richard Hurley adds: “For the modern fraudster, knowing somebody’s personal or financial details is a licence to print money and the continuing preponderance of such data driven financial crime is disturbing. We all have the right to demand that organisations handle our data securely, but individually we also have a responsibility to look after our own details. Without doing so, we are effectively handing access to our bank accounts to a complete stranger.”

What decrease means

The total number of confirmed frauds recorded through the CIFAS system during the first three quarters of 2013 has decreased by 14pc from the levels recorded during the same period of 2012. This may appear to be good news but must actually be considered a warning to organisations that do not participate in fraud data sharing.

Richard Hurley says: “Recent figures have shown that crime was down overall, but that fraud was up: so this decrease seems counterintuitive. In fact, it is a warning. Data sharing has long been known as a key prevention technique and organisations that participate in CIFAS data sharing have prevented billions of pounds of fraud losses in recent years. If fraud is going up, therefore, it can only mean that fraudsters have turned their attentions elsewhere and their efforts are going unrecorded and unprevented.”

Four Ps

The recent launch of the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy saw attention paid to the 4 ‘P’s: a strategy of pursue, prevent, protect and prepare. A similar approach needs to be taken in terms of countering fraud. Richard Hurley adds: “Individuals and organisations must prepare themselves for the attacks that fraudsters will inevitably try to make. The best approach is through responsible organisational approaches (smart counter fraud strategies and co-operation with others in terms of best practice and data sharing) and good online behaviour and safety. Only through this can we help to prevent fraud damaging us individually and collectively while also helping law enforcement to pursue those responsible.”



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