Massive rise in identity theft

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Figures released by leading fraud prevention service, Cifas reveal that cases of identity fraud have risen to unprecedented levels, with 89,000 cases recorded in the first half of 2017.  Cifas claim that 83% of identity fraud is carried out online, and although the number of attacks aimed at bank accounts and cards has fallen, fraud attempts targeting loans, online retail, telecoms and insurance products have risen dramatically.

Typically, identity theft occurs when an individual’s personal information is obtained and used to either buy products or take out loans or contracts, and is often unnoticed until the victim either receives an unexpected bill or discovers that their credit rating has been affected.  All that is needed for this type of attack to occur is the victim’s name, date of birth, the name of the bank they use and who they hold accounts with – Information that can be gained through stolen mail, searching an individual’s social media for personal information, by persuading the victim to volunteer the information in online phishing scams or emails, or purchased illegally online.

With nearly 500 identity thefts now occurring daily, consumers and small to medium sized businesses are particularly at risk from these attacks, likely because these groups often have inadequate internet security measures in place.  With the ever-increasing volume of these attacks taking place, it is imperative that individuals and companies alike are educated not only in the need for anti-virus and fraud technology, but also the importance of good online behaviours such as social media security and recognising suspicious emails before it is too late.