A study released by the fraud prevention service “Cifas” shows that identity fraud related to credit or debit cards has risen by around 40% in a year with people over 60 or under 21 years old particularly targeted.
More than 33,000 people over 60 were victims of ID fraud in 2018 – a rise of 34% from 2017. This coincides with the sharp rise in internet usage in the over 60s and also being particularly vulnerable to handing over personal details over the internet to people purporting to be a legitimate company. This, coupled with the fact older people are more likely to be accepted for credit, has led to a sharp increase.
This kind of scam is called Phishing, whereby a person committing fraud will imitate a website or organisation duping a person into submitting enough personal details to apply for credit in their name.
There have been a spate of large organisations reporting being imitated by fraudsters recently – even the HMRC put out a press release warning of their own website being cloned and customers targeted with false claims they were due a tax refund. People were then directed to a website that looked exactly like HMRC and were encouraged to enter personal information including Debit Card details.
Needle in a haystack?
Overall there was a 29% increase in attempted or successful card ID fraud with a total of 82,608 incidents of people attempting to obtain a new debit or credit card using the victim’s personal details to make an application.
While this number still only amounts to less than 0.05% of the 160,000,000 debit or credit cards in use in the UK, the number is growing fast so should never just be seen as something that happens to other people. As businesses and consumers make the shift to shopping online more and more, Cifas recommends customers be extra vigilant when sharing personal data and information.
A person committing ID fraud can piece enough information together to make an application for credit in your name, purely from tidbits of information that may be scattered around old emails or social media accounts for example – so go through and make sure things like your date of birth, old addresses – even places of work – are not publicly displayed.
To read more information about Cifas, the work they do, or to read about the Fraudscape report go to the Cifas website. They are a not for profit organisation working to reduce and prevent fraud and financial crime.
What to do if you are a victim
You may not even know you have fallen victim to Identity fraud until a bill arrives for something you haven’t bought. Or worse, you may be refused a credit account with a retailer due to your adverse credit rating.
If you find you have been a victim of ID fraud there are steps you can take. The following advice was taken from Cifas website.
The first thing to remember is ACT FAST – don’t put it off until it’s more convenient – with the speed of the online retail/banking/lending market a few hours can make a massive difference.
- Contact the company/provider of services
Get in touch with the organisation, bank, credit card company or retailer to let them know what happened
- Report it to Action Fraud
Action Fraud specialises in financially motivated online fraud and cybercrime. Fill in their form on their website or ring 0300 123 2040
- Get victim support
Contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice and support. Victim Support is the independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales.
- Report fraudsters
If you have information about those committing identity crime please tell independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or at their website.
- Query suspicious mail
Be suspicious of any unsolicited emails, even if it appears to be from a company you know of. Don’t open the attachments or click on links within unsolicited emails, and never disclose any personal or financial details.
If you receive any mail that seems suspicious or implies you have an account with the sender when you don’t, do not ignore it. It only takes a few minutes to contact a credit reference agency over the phone to report your concerns.
If you suspect that your mail is being stolen, or a mail redirection application has been made in your name without your knowledge, contact Royal Mail Customer Care on 08457 740 740 or via the Royal Mail website.
- Get extra protection
If you believe you are at risk of identity fraud or you have been a victim, you may wish to use Cifas’ Protective Registration service as an additional way to try to prevent fraud taking place in your name.
Spring Clean your old accounts
Cifas recommends that people review their old social media accounts, where data may be sitting in public view, and close them or change their privacy settings. It also urges vigilance over phishing emails or phone calls, noting that scammers will often open communication using an element of personal information such as name and address, in the hope of eliciting further personal facts such as a birthdate or places where accounts are held.