In the Media

Identity theft at an all-time high

PUBLISHED July 24, 2012

Identity theft is at unprecedented levels, according to the latest figures released by CIFAS - the UK's Fraud Prevention Service. The abuse of identity details, such as dates of birth, postcodes and internet logins, now accounts for two thirds of all frauds.

Figures from the "Fraudscape Bulletin 2012" published today by CIFAS show that misuse of identity details forms 65pc of all reported fraud.

"CIFAS has long highlighted that data is the cornerstone of the fraudster's trade," said Richard Hurley at CIFAS.

"But with nearly two thirds of all recorded fraud now relating to the abuse of identity details, the message is clearer than ever before. Organisations and individuals must develop new ways of safeguarding their personal data, account log in details and more."

Earlier this month, it was announced one million Android Forum users' accounts and 450,000 Yahoo Voice usernames and passwords had been stolen. Consumer research commissioned by Experian CreditExpert last month found that the average person has 26 different online accounts. Worryingly, 24pc of users use the same password for most profiles.

As Peter Turner, at Experian Consumer Services warned: "Using a different password for each account will minimise risks, but if password information is stolen from a website, all accounts using the same details will be compromised, and this information can spread among fraudsters rapidly."

Experian CreditExpert revealed last week that more than 12 million pieces of personal data were traded online in the first four months of this year.

Mr Hurley concluded: "Identity details and personal data are now driving the vast majority of fraudulent activity, and this signals the need to change processes, protection and attitudes fundamentally. Organisations and individuals must therefore find a way of fighting back."

A growing problem, constituting a fifth of all fraud, is the misuse of bank accounts, indicating the economic conditions are propelling individuals to consider desperate actions such as supply false information and evading payments.

Nick Mothershaw at Experian commented: "Credit cards have seen a resurgence in identity fraud, while a growing number of financially stressed individuals consider misrepresenting their personal or payment information when applying for insurance, contributing to a significant fraud upswing in the first quarter of 2012."