CIFAS – the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service – has issued a warning that six out of every 10 frauds recorded to the CIFAS database in 2013 were dependent on the abuse of identity details.
As previously revealed in this year’s Fraudscape report, the use of fictitious identities or the abuse of identity details to obtain a product or service in the name of an innocent victim (Identity Fraud) accounted for 49% – well over 100,000 – of all confirmed frauds recorded in the UK during 2013.
Fraud in the cyber age
While identity fraud has long been a serious issue, there have now been over 100,000 confirmed cases recorded every year since 2009.
In addition, since 2008 the use by online crooks of data such as passwords and e-mails to hijack an existing account has also increased significantly, in turn demonstrating that recent patterns of online financial crime can now be considered the ‘norm’ in terms of fraud.
CIFAS communications manager Richard Hurley commented: “2007 is often known in the IT security world as 1BC (One Year Before Cyber). Since 2008, figures collected from organisations that share data through CIFAS undoubtedly confirm that we are now in the age of cyber fraud. Since then, we have seen identity fraud break the 100,000 confirmed victims barrier every year for five straight years, and have seen the two types of identity crime, combined, hover around or exceed the ‘60% of all fraud’ level for the past three years.”
Hurley added: “While it’s true that, without the Internet, organised criminals would still find a way to commit such frauds, these figures prove more than ever before that fraud is now a cyber industry.”
Can the online fraudsters be countered?
In an age when many increasingly rely upon online services and retailers, the need to counter the fraud risks becomes greater.
While we can all do more as individuals to keep ourselves safe when online (such as only using secure Internet connections, using complex passwords and keeping our systems fully updated in terms of security), and while organisations must also do more to protect the information that they collect from customers, it’s worth considering whether other changes might be necessary.
This is at the heart of the latest poll on the homepage of the CIFAS website.
Richard Hurley noted: “We all want the online world to be a safe and easy place to do business. However, the simplicity that we rely upon – such as using only a few pieces of information to identify or verify oneself – plays into the hands of hackers and online criminals. Whereas, traditionally, the concept of a person’s identity is akin to a tapestry of details such as passport, voters’ roll and bank statement, in the digital era do we now need to include additional information in order to prove that we are who we say we are?”
Continuing this theme, Hurley stated: “While, on the one hand, this might seem like a solution, it raises the spectre of organisations knowing more and more about individuals. This is something that, naturally, presses some uncomfortable buttons. It also risks putting more personal data injeopardy by giving it to other organisations.”
In conclusion, Hurley said: “Nonetheless, society at large will increasingly need to accept that the convenience of current methods might need to be reviewed in order to bolster personal security: whether it’s through using different data in a smarter way, software to recognise the devices that we use or biometrics.”