Identity fraud has continued to rise at record levels during the first half of 2017, up 5 per cent from the same period in 2016.
The latest figures released from fraud prevention service Cifas has shown that a record 89,000 identity fraud cases were recorded from January to June this year.
The figure represents more than half (56 per cent) of all fraud reported by Cifas members, with 83 per cent of the identity frauds being perpetrated online.
A sharp rise was noted in identity fraudsters applying for loans, online retail, telecoms, and insurance products. Although the number of identity fraud attempts against bank accounts and plastic cards has fallen, these still account for more than half of all identity fraud cases.
Most identity fraud happens when a fraudster pretends to be an innocent individual to buy a product or take out a loan in their name. Often victims do not even realise that they have been targeted until a bill arrives for something they did not buy or they experience problems with their credit rating.
To successfully carry out this kind of fraud, the fraudsters need access to their victim?s personal information such as name, date of birth, address, their bank and who they hold accounts with. Fraudsters get hold of this in a variety of ways, from stealing mail through to hacking; obtaining data on the ?dark web?; exploiting personal information on social media, or though ?social engineering? where innocent parties are persuaded to give up personal information to someone pretending to be from their bank, the police, or a trusted retailer.
Chief Executive of Cifas, Simon Dukes, said: ‘We have seen identity fraud attempts increase year on year, now reaching epidemic levels, with identities being stolen at a rate of almost 500 a day.
‘These frauds are taking place almost exclusively online. The vast amounts of personal data that is available either online or through data breaches is only making it easier for the fraudster.
‘Criminals are relentlessly targeting consumers and businesses and we must all be alert to the threat and do more to protect personal information.’
‘For smaller and medium-sized businesses in particular, they must focus on educating staff on good cyber security behaviours and raise awareness of the social engineering techniques employed by fraudsters. Relying solely on new fraud prevention technology is not enough.’