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The UK's leading fraud prevention service, Cifas, has released their figures from 2017, which saw more than 300,000 cases of fraud take place. While this marks a welcome decrease of 6% overall, fraud is up in certain areas, so it remains important to stay vigilant.
One area that saw an unwelcome increase was identity fraud, which was up by just 1% from 2016, but saw a whopping 125% rise compared to 10 years ago, to hit an all-time high of 174,523 cases. A lot of these victims had their identities stolen not for the usual suspects – credit card and bank account applications – but for taking out mobile phone contracts, insurance or loans.
"It's clear that fraud in the UK continues to evolve," said Cifas deputy chief executive Mike Haley. "As some targets become harder to crack, criminals turn to what they consider softer targets. Fortunately, many of these sectors share their fraud data through Cifas and are detecting more fraud attempts. As fraudsters see their attempts to obtain these products become more difficult, the question will arise as to where they will target next."
Another area that saw an increase was the number of bank accounts being used for money laundering, with especially younger people (aged 14-24) being used more as 'money mules', i.e. people who allow money to be transferred through their bank account for a small fee. In total, there were more than 32,000 such cases reported last year, up 11% from the previous year.
In contrast, those over 60 were most likely to be targeted by bank account hijackers, with over a third of victims falling into this age range. Cifas reminds consumers to listen to their instincts, not to assume strangers are who they say they are, and not to let themselves be rushed into things.
"The absolute volume of fraud is still frighteningly high and much more still needs to be done to reduce its prevalence, including greater collaboration and sharing of fraud risk data between industry, government, and law enforcement," commented Mike. There's good news, however, as "Working together, organisations who are members of Cifas prevented over £1 billion worth of fraud last year."
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Consider talking to the younger people in your life about the dangers of being a 'money mule' and compromising their bank account
If you're worried your details have been used for nefarious reasons, doing a credit check could give you some answers
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