UK Identity Fraud Falls but Online Scams Rise

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Identity fraud in the UK has fallen for the first time in four years but the number of online scams continue to rise, especially in the retail sector, according to Cifas.

The not-for-profit fraud prevention organization claimed a drop in identity fraud of 5% in the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period last year.

However, identity fraud still comprises over half of all fraud reported by Cifas, with online accounting for 87%. That figure is up from the last time Infosecurity contacted the non-profit in April, when a spokesperson said that 84% of identity fraud occurs through online channels.

Identity fraud against online retail accounts has risen by 24% (1232 cases), while there has been a steep rise in fraudulent applications for credit and debit cards (12%).

On the other side, Cifas recorded a 12% reduction in the volume of bank accounts being targeted by identity fraudsters, and a 34% reduction in attempts to obtain mobile phone contracts.

The most popular ways to obtain the digital identity data needed to make fraudulent applications online are still by buying it off the cybercrime underground, social engineering and ‘hacking’, it said.

Sandra Peaston, director of strategy, policy and insight at Cifas, pointed out that identity fraud hit an all-time-high at the end of 2017, so any reversal of this trend should be viewed positively.

“However, these new figures demonstrate that identity fraudsters adapt quickly to try and circumvent security measures. The re-targeting of plastic cards, following a drop in 2017, is a prime example of this,” she added.

“With identity fraud remaining uncomfortably high, more personal information available online, and increasing numbers of data breaches, the protection of personal data must be viewed as a collective responsibility. Everyone should play their part, from individuals and organizations taking steps to protect personal data to businesses ensuring their fraud prevention practices effectively defend against evolving tactics employed by identity fraudsters.”

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