Levels of identity fraud have fallen for the first time since 2014, according to the latest data from fraud prevention service, Cifas.
Cifas members recorded 84,463 identity thefts in the first half of 2018. Cases were 5% lower than the same period in 2017, according to the prevention service.
However, while the reduction is welcome news, consumers cannot afford to let their guard down.
Cifas says that in the majority of cases fraudsters imitate innocent individuals to open accounts or buy products in their name.
Victims often only find out when they have subsequent problems with their credit rating or receive a bill for something they did not buy.
Cifas says ID fraud still accounts for more than half of the fraud cases reported to the organisation, with 87% perpetrated online.
Fraudsters also appear to be changing their strategies. While the number of mobile phone contracts that were set up fraudulently fell by 34% and attacks on bank accounts dropped by 12%, Cifas reports a sharp hike (12%) in fraudulent plastic card applications.
Cases of ID fraud with online retails accounts also shot up by 24%.
Fraudsters do this by accessing personal information about another individual, for example their name, address and their banking provider. This is usually acquired online, via social media or ‘social engineering’, where fraudsters purport to be from their target’s bank, the police or a retailer.
Sandra Peaston, director of strategy, policy and insight at Cifas, comments: “It is positive that we have seen an overall reduction in the first six months of the year. However, these new figures demonstrate that identity fraudsters adapt quickly to try to circumvent security measures.
“With identity fraud remaining uncomfortably high, more personal information available online, and increasing numbers of data breaches, the protection of personal data must be viewed as a collective responsibility.
“Everyone should play their part, from individuals and organisations taking steps to protect personal data to businesses ensuring their fraud prevention practices effectively defend against evolving tactics employed by identity fraudsters.”