A recent report (Fraudscape Bulletin) from the UK fraud prevention agency CIFAS, claims that identity fraud has increased by 11 per cent between January and the end of June this year. CIFAS recorded 46,609 cases of identity fraud in the last six months of 2010, compared to 51,796 in the first half of this year (2011).
This increase is possibly linked to the current economic situation. People have lost their jobs, seen pay cuts, pensions frozen and more and more people are struggling to make ends meet with the ever growing cost of living – some people are also turning to mortgage fraud – desperate times require desperate measures. There is also the small matter of over 1m 18-24 year olds who are yet to find work, which will no doubt drive some youngsters to crime and identity fraud. The banks are not lending, so this adds yet more opportunity for budding fraudsters to look to misuse other people’s personal details to commit fraud.
In difficult times, lenders have more stringent lending criteria, so if you know you have a good credit rating, best to make sure you keep it that way. Fraudsters will look to exploit you, from the car you drive to where you live, they will compile whether you are a worthwhile “mark”. You’d be amazed as to how much research fraudsters will do before they target you, I know this from having spoken with identity fraudsters over the years. The social network (i.e. Facebook and Google+) have also opened up oportunity to collate personal data – any small amount of data (which appears meaningless to you) can be very useful for a fraudster.
Some of the 11 percent appear to have been victims of online phishing and spear phishing emails – we all know how fraudsters like to target your online bank accounts. Savings and bank accounts are also being targeted and there is evidence to suggest that this is linked to organised crime and money laundering.
One of the major increases in frauds has been fraudsters targeting mobile phones – this has risen by some 60 per cent. Fraudsters are using someone else’s identity to obtain mobile phone contracts, with bills being sent to the victim. Read more: CIFAS Fraudscape Bulletin
So how do you protect yourself from identity fraud? I suggest you read my post on UK ID Theft protection services – what you need to know if you are living in the UK and if you live in the US you should read US ID Theft protection services – what you need to know. You should find most of your answers in these posts.
Safe surfing folks!