Tag Archives: Identity Theft

Criminals target UK’s youth as cases of identity fraud increase

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has released new figures showing a 52% rise in young identity fraud victims in the UK. In 2015, just under 24,000 (23,959) people aged 30 and under were victims of identity fraud. This is up from 15,766 in 2014, and more than double the 11,000 victims in this age bracket in 2010.

The figures have been published on the same day as a new short film, entitled ‘Data to Go’, is launched online to raise awareness of this type of fraud. Shot in a London coffee shop in March this year, the film uses hidden cameras to capture baffled reactions from people caught in a stunt where their personal data, all found on public websites, is revealed to them live on a coffee cup.

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 don’t even realise that they’ve been targeted until a bill arrives for something they didn’t buy or they experience problems with their credit rating.

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To carry out this kind of fraud successfully, fraudsters usually have access to their victim’s personal information such as name, date of birth, address, their bank details and information on who they hold accounts with. Fraudsters gain such detail in a variety of ways, including through hacking and data loss, as well as using social media to put the pieces of someone’s identity together. 86% of all identity frauds in 2015 were perpetrated online.

People of all ages can be at risk of identity fraud, but with growing numbers of young people falling victim, Cifas is calling for better education around fraud and financial crime.

Fraudsters are opportunists

Simon Dukes, CEO of Cifas, said: “Fraudsters are opportunists. As banks and lenders have become more adept at detecting false identities, so the fraudsters have instead focused on stealing and using genuine people’s details. Society, Government and industry all have a role to play in preventing fraud. However, our concern is that the lack of awareness about identity fraud is making it even easier for fraudsters to obtain the information they need.”

Dukes continued: “The likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online platforms are much more than just social media sites – they’re now a hunting ground for identity thieves. We’re urging people to check their privacy settings today and think twice about what information they share. Social media is fantastic, and the way we live our lives online gives us huge opportunities. Taking a few simple steps will help us to enjoy the benefits while reducing the risks. To a fraudster, the information we put online is a goldmine.”

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Commander Chris Greany, the City of London Police’s national co-ordinator for economic crime, added: “We’ve known for some time that identity fraud has become the engine that drives much of today’s criminality, and so it’s vitally important that people keep their personal information safe and secure. In the fight against fraud, education is key and it’s great that Cifas and its members are taking identity fraud seriously and working together to raise awareness of how the issue is now increasingly affecting young people through the launch of this film.”

As part of the campaign, Cifas commissioned a survey with Britain Thinks to find out more about 18-24 year olds’ attitudes towards personal data and identity fraud. The survey found that young people are alarmingly unaware that they’re at risk:

  • Only 34% of 18-24 year olds say they learned about online security when they were at school
  • 50% of the 18-24 year olds surveyed believe they would never fall for an online scam (compared to the national average of 37%)
  • Only 57% of 18-24 year olds report thinking about how secure their personal details are online (compared to 73% for the population as a whole)

They’re also less likely to install anti-virus software on their mobile phone than the national average (27% compared to 37%).

Organisations such as the City of London Police, Action Fraud, Get Safe Online, Her Majesty’s Government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign, Financial Fraud Action UK and Cifas members including Coventry Building Society, BT and Secure Trust Bank are all supporting the campaign and sharing the new film across their social media networks.

Cifas is also appealing to youth organisations, schools and universities to share the film so it reaches as many young people as possible.

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Centrify survey pinpoints ID theft as key concern for digital consumers

Identity theft has ranked as the top concern among 2,000 consumers questioned about their digital lifestyles in new research commissioned by Centrify Corporation. The survey reveals that 81% of respondents stated they are concerned – or very concerned – about the prospect of having their identity stolen online.

Having credit card information stolen on the Internet is also extremely worrying for consumers, with 79% ranking it the second biggest concern above being a victim of cyber crime (73%).

Surprisingly, cyber bullying is the least concerning prospect for respondents with just 40% of consumers showing any real concern, while privacy of social networks (59%) and e-mail spam (68%) both ranked much higher.

The comprehensive survey also reveals the numbers of respondents that have a high, medium or low ‘digital footprint’ based on the amount of time they spend online in a typical week e-mailing, texting and sharing or watching digital images, songs, games, videos and apps.

62% of those very concerned about identity theft have a medium digital footprint, 46% low and 26% have a high digital footprint. Equally, only 26% of those with a high digital footprint are concerned about having credit card information stolen on an online shopping website and their e-mail accounts being spammed, showing that those who spend more time online are less concerned about their identity being stolen.

One-in-four respondents to the survey have definitely (or probably) been a victim of identity theft, 43% of victims suggesting the problem took more than one month to fix with one-in-five saying it took more than ten hours. 47% of interviewees admitted to having to spend their own money to resolve the issue, with 28% noting they’ve spent at least £60 (in turn highlighting the need for increased password security).

Identity theft remains a key concern for online shoppers in both America and the UK

Identity theft remains a key concern for online shoppers in both America and the UK

Security of personal information at risk

“With so much of our time now spent online, be it in relation to social networking, banking or shopping, the security of our personal information and, more importantly, our identities is being put at risk on a daily basis,” explained Tom Kemp (CEO at Centrify).

“According to our survey, online purchases are the top reason why users feel they became victims of identity theft, underscoring the importance of confidence in one’s own online security. Consumers have very little faith in the absolute security of their passwords. Just 15% believe those passwords are very secure, regardless of the amount and type of characters used. Being able to manage our password security is crucial.”

Other research highlights:

• The groups that are most likely to say they’ve been victims of identity theft are those that probably best understand and notice the signs of identity theft: IT workers, online shoppers, higher salary workers, the ‘tech-savvy’ and those with a high digital footprint

• Those with the least confidence that their passwords are absolutely secure include individuals that do less online shopping (12%), those aged 50-64 (11%) and those with a medium digital footprint (11%)

• A plurality of consumers are only somewhat confident that their passwords for personal accounts could not be cracked by a computer program, but few are very confident

*The Widmeyer Survey was developed to assess people’s engagement with (and perception of) passwords in order to determine their efficacy in the workplace. The survey was completed in September 2014 with more than 1,000 participants in the UK and 1,000 in North America. Results were similar across both regions

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Cyber Streetwise survey reveals 75% of Britons place online safety at risk

A new survey conducted by Cyber Streetwise has revealed that most people are not taking the necessary steps to protect their identity online, with 75% of those who took part in the study admitting they don’t follow Best Practice to create complex passwords.

The figures have been released during Cyber Security Awareness Month to mark the launch of the latest phase of the UK Government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign. In partnership with the police service and industry experts, Cyber Streetwise aims to raise awareness of wise and unwise behaviour in the online space.

Despite 95% of Britons saying it’s their own responsibility to protect themselves online, two thirds are risking their safety by not using symbols in passwords. Nearly half (47%) exhibit other unsafe password habits such as using pet names or significant dates as their password.

Modern Slavery and Organised Crime Minister Karen Bradley MP explained: “When passwords are compromised, financial and banking details can be stolen and cause problems for the person affected, for businesses and for the economy. There’s an emotional impact caused by the loss of irreplaceable photos, videos and personal e-mails, but even worse these can be seized to extort money.”

Bradley added: “We can and must play a role in reducing our risk of falling victim to cyber crime. Most attacks can be prevented by taking some basic security steps, and I encourage everyone to do so.”

Vulnerability to ID theft, fraud and extortion

This latest research shows that 82% of people manage more online accounts that require a password than they did last year, with the average Briton dealing with 19. Over a third (35%) of those questioned admit that they do not create strong passwords because they struggle to recall them. However, poor passwords leave people vulnerable to identity theft, fraud and extortion.

Cyber crime presents a serious threat to the UK and the Government is taking action to increase public awareness of the risk, dedicating £860 million to this issue over the next five years through the National Cyber Security Programme. In essence, the Government is working hard to transform the UK’s response to cyber security.

The latest survey conducted by Cyber Streetwise has revealed that the majority of people are not taking necessary steps to protect their identity online

The latest survey conducted by Cyber Streetwise has revealed that the majority of people are not taking necessary steps to protect their identity online

Jamie Saunders – director of the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) National Cyber Crime Unit – commented: “The NCA is working closely with law enforcement colleagues all over the world to target and disrupt cyber criminals. We should be clear that the criminals will target weaknesses. On that basis, having weak passwords will leave people vulnerable.”

Saunders continued: “Nobody wants their personal financial details, business information or photographs to be stolen or held to ransom, so simple things like using three or more words, a mixture of numbers, letters and symbols and upper and lower case letters will make it much more difficult for hackers to access personal information.”

Creating strong and memorable passwords

Advice on creating strong and memorable passwords can be found at http://www.cyberstreetwise.com along with other easy tips for staying safe online. Tips for creating and remembering passwords include the following:

Loci method
Imagine a familiar scene and place each item that needs to be remembered in a particular location (ie a red rose on the table, a book on the chair, a poster on the wall). Imagine yourself looking around the room in a specific sequence. Re-imagine the scene and the location of each item when you need to remember

Acronyms
Use a phrase or a sentence and take the first letter from that sentence

Narrative methods
Remember a sequence of key words by creating a story and littering it with memorable details (for example, ‘The little girl wore a bright yellow hat as she walked down the narrow street…’)

Further information on Cyber Security Awareness Month is available at: http://www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam/

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“Beware what you share” warns new CIFAS guide on social media usage

People are being warned by CIFAS – the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service – of the consequences of sharing too much information on social media platforms.

‘Beware What You Share’ is a new publication designed to highlight the often unexpected dangers of posting too much information online through social networking sites such as Facebook. From pointing out what a fraudster will see when someone posts their holiday details through to understanding privacy settings on popular social networking sites, ‘Beware What You Share’ points out some of the common dangers and encourages individuals to think about how information might be used by those who are not in their close circle of friends or family.

“With a new academic year in its infancy, and the festive season looming large on the horizon, the latter part of the year is invariably one where younger people, for example, will be meeting new acquaintances and creating friendships that will last a lifetime,” stated Richard Hurley, communications manager at CIFAS.

“Social media is now an essential part of that whole process, of course, but in the same way that you wouldn’t advertise all of your personal details in the pub to a group of people you have not long known, you also need to be very careful that you don’t share far too much information in the online space.”

CIFAS is urging people to be aware in terms of the information they post on social media platforms

CIFAS is urging people to be aware in terms of the information they post on social media platforms

The second publication in a planned series designed to educate young people about fraud and how to protect themselves, this new document has already been sent to universities and colleges and is available online.

The aim is not to stop social media from being used, but rather to educate young people around the potential risks they’ll face by effectively ‘living their life in public’. The guide contains eight examples of ‘seeing what a fraudster might see when looking at your social media profiles’, from highlighting that someone is away from home and that their house is empty through to where they work and details of those companies with which they have online accounts. Each small piece of information can be used to create a much larger picture, in turn increasing an individual’s chances of falling victim to fraud.

“Ask yourself, would you reveal all of this information in one chat in the pub?”

“The pressures on young people – to fit in, to socialise, to make friends and so on – are immense,” added Hurley. “Social media is undoubtedly the easiest way to do all of this, but it’s worth remembering something. Would you – in a pub, with people you were only just getting to know – tell them all about your address, holiday plans, shopping habits and the rest? No. You would not open yourself up so quickly.”

Hurley concluded: “‘Beware What You Share’ highlights very succinctly how putting too much information online is the equivalent of telling a stranger everything about yourself at a first meeting. The majority of people are, of course, simply wanting to connect and be friends, but individuals need to be aware that there are some people who are just waiting to use any information that’s revealed.”

CIFAS provides the UK’s most comprehensive databases of confirmed fraud data as well as an extensive range of fraud prevention services to over 300 organisations operational across the public and private sectors.

Member organisations share information in order to prevent fraud and emanate from a variety of sectors including banking, grant giving, credit card provision, asset finance, retail credit, mail order and online retail, insurance, telecommunications, factoring, share dealing, vetting agencies, contact centres and insurance brokering sectors.

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“Nearly half of all frauds are identity crimes” reveals CIFAS

Data-driven identity crimes – ie frauds carried out using a victim’s identity details to obtain new accounts or take over existing ones – accounted for over 45% of all the confirmed frauds identified in the first three quarters of 2014. These figures issued by CIFAS continue the pattern seen in recent years, underlining the severity of the challenge facing consumers and businesses.

While identity fraud existed before the proliferation of online services, the use by online crooks of data such as passwords and e-mails or personal data harvested through hacking attacks and social engineering can now be considered the ‘norm’ in terms of fraud.

The 45% figure may represent a small decrease from some of the proportions recorded in previous years, but identity crimes represent as strong a challenge as ever to the financial well-being of organisations and consumers.

CIFAS’ communications manager Richard Hurley commented: “For the modern fraudster, knowing somebody’s personal or financial details is a licence to print money and the continuing preponderance of such data-driven financial crime must serve as a warning. Defeating it means we have to demand that organisations do more to handle our data securely, and ramp up their fraud prevention efforts accordingly. Individually, however, we also have a responsibility to look after our own details. Without doing so, we are effectively handing access to our bank accounts to a complete stranger.”

Data-driven identity crimes - ie frauds carried out using a victim’s identity details to obtain new accounts or take over existing ones - accounted for over 45% of all the confirmed frauds identified in the first three quarters of 2014

Data-driven identity crimes – ie frauds carried out using a victim’s identity details to obtain new accounts or take over existing ones – accounted for over 45% of all the confirmed frauds identified in the first three quarters of 2014

Victims of fraud must not be forgotten

Since 2010, there have consistently been over 100,000 instances of victimisation each year. The figures for 2014 to date indicate that this year will repeat the pattern, with almost 90,000 victims of identity crime already pinpointed by the organisations using the CIFAS National Fraud Database.

“Fraud is far from a victimless crime,” noted Hurley. “Not only do the victims suffer an immediate financial cost but they also have to contend with the time taken to sort out the mess left behind and the worry caused by not knowing how the fraudster managed to steal their details. While it’s understandable that a financial cost is always asked for in relation to fraud, it must be remembered that fraud has a far more lasting and personal impact upon victims. It’s one that cannot be summed up in terms of monetary value alone.”

While fraud may never be eliminated, figures such as these – and the patterns of recent years – prove that UK plc must become more aggressive in its approach to fraud prevention.

CIFAS CEO Simon Dukes explained: “While many organisations have put in place robust and comprehensive strategies designed to combat online crooks, and have empowered their customers to do the same, that doesn’t mean all organisations have done so.”

Dukes concluded: “Surely now every organisation and individual must recognise that if they don’t co-operate with others in terms of identifying and implementing good practice, data sharing and responsible online behaviour then they instantly become the weakest link in the chain. This means that they encourage fraudsters to continue their crimes, in turn damaging us all individually and collectively.”

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‘Over 60% of fraud is data driven identity crime’ warns CIFAS

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.

While identity fraud has long been a serious issue, there have now been over 100,000 confirmed cases recorded every year since 2009

While identity fraud has long been a serious issue, there have now been over 100,000 confirmed cases recorded every year since 2009

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?”

In an age when we increasingly rely upon online services and retailers, the need to counter the fraud risks becomes greater

In an age when we increasingly rely upon online services and retailers, the need to counter the fraud risks becomes greater

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.”

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CIFAS Report: ‘Plastic card accounts are identity fraudsters’ favourites’

Analysis of the fraud figures recorded during 2013 by organisations that share confirmed fraud data through CIFAS – the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service – demonstrates that identity fraud remains the biggest fraud challenge facing the UK.

While overall fraud levels decreased by 11% in 2013, there were still over 108,500 confirmed identity frauds. That figure represents almost one-in-two of all frauds (49%).

Identity frauds (the use of a false identity or attempt to impersonate an innocent victim) that targeted the plastic cards sector (ie credit and store card accounts) increased by over 35% in 2013 from the levels seen in 2012.

In fact, plastic card identity frauds accounted for almost 40% of all identity frauds recorded during 2013. This makes the credit and store card sector the favoured target for identity fraudsters in the UK.

Analysis of the fraud figures recorded during 2013 by organisations that share confirmed fraud data through CIFAS demonstrates that identity fraud remains the biggest fraud challenge facing the UK

Analysis of the fraud figures recorded during 2013 by organisations that share confirmed fraud data through CIFAS demonstrates that identity fraud remains the biggest fraud challenge facing the UK

CIFAS communications manager Richard Hurley said: “CIFAS has long commented that fraudsters will continue to shift their attention, moving from one organisation to another and from one type of product to another. The figures for 2013, when compared with 2012, prove this once again. Whereas in 2012 identity fraud centred upon the online retail sector, the criminals behind this type of fraud turned their sights towards the credit and store card sector in 2013. Such a dramatic shift underlines that organisations must be aware they can quickly become the next target for fraudsters.”

The online danger

The need for individuals to be careful when online, and to review how information is stored or shared, is underlined by the further revelation that an astonishing 90% of all identity frauds against plastic card accounts were attempted online.

“The Internet has revolutionised the way that we all conduct our business,” commented Hurley, “but the Internet is also a fantastic enabler for the modern fraudster. The fact that so many identity frauds on plastic cards (well over 43,000) were attempted online must serve as a wake up call not only to organisations but to every individual.”

Hurley added: “We must all ensure that we are practising good, safe online behaviour and putting barriers in the way of the fraudster who would otherwise make use of our details to walk away with our money and leave us with the bill.”

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