The number of recorded identity theft cases in the UK reached a record high in 2016, painting a grim picture for the future of personal online security.
This is according to fraud prevention organization Cifas, which revealed that 88% of all the recorded fraud cases happened online.
A staggering 53.3% of all fraud cases were identity theft incidents, which totaled up to a staggering figure of 172,919.
Cifas pointed out that, ironically, it is the young people that are expected to be tech savvy that are falling victim to fraud schemes.
Over 25,000 identity fraud victims in 2016 were aged 30 years and below, while the number of victims under the age of 21 rose to 1,803 in 2016 from 1,343 in 2015.
The statistics were gathered from a rich database that is comprised of 277 banks and reputable establishments.
Cifas has been recording a steady increase in the number of identity fraud cases for 13 years, and 2016 is by far the year with the highest number of identity fraud cases ever recorded.
“All Age Groups are at Risk” – Cifas Deputy CEO, Mike Haley
The Deputy Chief Executive of Cifas blames a lack of proper education for the increase in identity fraud cases. He pointed out that although the youth are clearly affected the most, all age groups are at risk of becoming victims of fraud.
Haley painted a sobering picture of how people never fail to protect their personal possessions—vehicles, material items, houses—by installing good locks, but fail to show the same level of responsibility when it comes to their most prized possession – their identities.
His sentiments were echoed by Chris Greany, the City of London’s Police Commander and national coordinator for economic crime, who urged people to observe good cybersecurity practices in order to avoid falling victim to fraud.
He compared weak passwords and security measures to unlocked doors and windows of a house containing valuable possessions.
“Websites and Identity Providers Face an Uphill Task” – Yoti CEO, Robin Tombs
Cifas’ announcement also caught the attention of Robin Tombs, CEO at Yoti, who agrees that identity fraud is a prevalent problem that is ballooning at an alarming rate.
He highlighted a lack of equilibrium between convenience and security in the fast-paced digital world we live in.
Websites and identity providers are struggling to land on a suitable solution to providing easy login access without compromising the security of the users’ accounts.
This is undoubtedly the avenue that should be taken in the war against fraud, according to him, and future advancements such as biometric authentication will be crucial to addressing this problem.
Until then, he anticipates that the number of identity fraud cases will continue its upward trend.
Identity Fraud Happens Online and in the Real World
Luke Croydon is no stranger to identity fraud. In fact, most of the people in the apartment building he and his partner lives in have all been unlucky victims of fraud at one point in time.
Croydon cites the proximity of their letterboxes to the street as the primary reason why so many of them have fallen victim to the fraud.
Letterboxes are easy marks for criminals lurking around in the streets. Here, they can easily steal information to sign up for credit cards, which they the intercept once it is delivered into the letterbox.
Unfortunately for the victims of this fraud method, the first sign that something is amiss usually comes in the form of bank statements that show money spent from credit cards in their names.
And for Croydon and most of his roommates, this is usually not the worst of their concerns.
Personal information can be used to commit a number of crimes. The criminals behind fraud incidents may use that information to register to websites that are being monitored by the authorities and even attempt to obtain a passport in your name.
Cifas advises vigilance when dealing with important personal documents, regardless if they are of a financial nature or otherwise.
In addition to using sound online security measures, people should remember that these identity fraud criminals don’t just rely on the internet – they may also use tactics such as social engineering to get what they need from unsuspecting victims.
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