Identity Crime Pushes Fraud To A Record High

Fraud in the UK has risen by 5%, with more crimes recorded in 2012 than in any previous year, according to the UK's Fraud Prevention Service.

CIFAS recorded 248,325 frauds last year, with identity crime - when people misuse the personal data of victims - accounting for almost two-thirds of this total.

The internet remained a key tool for the fraudster, with 80% of identity crime perpetrated online, the organisation said in its Fraudscape report.

Men were most likely to be victims of impersonation, CIFAS said, as were people living in large, urban areas.

It identified the Gosport/Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Peterborough and Manchester regions as fraud hotspots in 2012.

In London, boroughs in the east of the city - Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich and Bexley - were described as "fraud epicentres".

The tough economic environment in Britain played a "prominent role" in driving up fraud, the report said, acting as a likely incentive for many different types of the crime.

But CIFAS's Richard Hurley said this was just one factor contributing to the increasing amount of fraud.

"Fraud is a complex subject, affected by a wide range of factors, and the variations recorded during 2012 are proof of that," he said.

"The role of organised crime, consumer awareness, the economic situation in the UK, changing business practices and the rapid development of digital technologies are just a few of the influencing factors."

Identity fraudsters most commonly targeted bank, credit card and mail order accounts, with fraud relating to plastic cards up 44% in 2012, the organisation said.

Fraud against loan products was also up by around 45% in 2012 compared with the year before, which the report said was due in part to the increased popularity of payday loans.

Mr Hurley added that the question of whose responsibility it is to defeat fraud needs to be addressed because the crime remains a threat both to organisations and individuals.

"By examining the ways in which frauds are attempted, CIFAS is able to cast light on the murky realities of the problem," he said.

"This underlines the need for more public and private organisations to act responsibly and share data to prevent fraud before having to recover losses, together with greater moves made by individuals and law enforcement."