Identity fraud surged by nearly three quarters in the first half of the year, driven by continued malicious online activity and the economic slowdown, according to new figures from UK fraud prevention service Cifas.
The organisation was set up to facilitate the sharing of information on identified fraud between its members, which include banks, card companies and insurance firms, in an attempt to prevent further rises in all types of fraud, including online.
The report said that identity fraud, which includes victims of impersonation as well as the creation of fictitious identities by fraudsters, rose 74 per cent in the first six months of 2009 to over 100,000 cases.
Facility takeover fraud, where the fraudster gains access to a user's account and siphons off funds, rose 40 per cent during the period to more than 11,000 cases.
There was some good for fraud departments, however. Cifas reported an 11 per cent year-on-year increase in financial losses avoided through the fraud data sharing of its members.
"The rise in the number of victims, and these very specific types of fraud, demonstrate that fraudsters have no regard for economic, social and personal fragility," said Cifas chief exeutive Peter Hurst.
"While we all look for solutions to the hardships imposed by the current climate, however, these figures focus attention sharply on what responsible businesses and public sector organisations can achieve through sharing data on proven frauds to reduce losses and ease the burden of the recession on us all."
Although not broken down in the survey, it is believed that much fraudulent activity committed today is card not present (CNP), including online, fraud.
The latest annual figures from recently dissolved UK payments association Apacs found that CNP fraud, which represents roughly half of all online fraud, grew by 13 per cent year on year to reach £328.4m in 2008, or 54 per cent of all card fraud losses.
Phil D'Angio, director at secure authentication firm VeriSign, said that the Cifas figures highlight the growing problem of account takeover fraud.
"We now live in a world where online threats are growing daily," he said. " Security is appearing ever higher on the consumer agenda, and businesses need to offer a safe environment to users of their services or customers will simply vote with their feet, and refuse to transact with them online."
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