Financial fraud 'on the increase' in UK

There has been a sharp rise in most types of financial fraud in the first half of 2007 compared with the same period in 2006, according to The U.K. Fraud Prevention Service (CIFAS).

Application fraud -- where fraudsters tell lies on application forms in order to obtain credit, insurance or other products -- increased by nearly 19 percent, with 37,357 cases detected and filed by CIFAS members.

Identity fraud overall has stabilized when compared with the same period in 2006. But the number of cases identified, 39,261, is still high, with the number of victims increasing from 32,039 to 33,411.

In addition, the swing towards current address identity fraud -- where the victim lives at the same address as the "current address" given on the fraudulent application -- noticed during the first quarter of 2007 has been sustained, and now represents 35 percent of identity fraud cases, compared with 25 percent during the same period in 2006.

In such cases, the fraudster applies for products in the name of the victim whose property they share. The fraudster will generally have access to, or can intercept, the victim's post in flats where individuals share a communal mailbox with shared access. Other contributory factors to current address fraud can include abuse of Companies House data, data breaches, fraudulent mail redirections and bin raiding.

CIFAS chief executive, Peter Hurst said: "The surge in current address fraud is particularly worrying because, in order to perpetrate it, the fraudster effectively needs a very thorough knowledge of the victim's personal details. This indicates that fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated and are managing to access more data about their victims. This underlines the need for all of us to protect our personal details as carefully as possible and not to take any chances."

"Our statistics show that the first quarter figures were not just a worrying 'blip', but part of a trend," said Hurst.

He added that fraudsters were always look to exploit weaknesses, and this begged the question as to "how much money is being lost to fraud by those organizations that do not share fraud data."

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