JOHN MARSDEN, HEAD OF IDENTITY AND FRAUD AT EQUIFAX COMMENTS ON CIFAS FIGURES WHICH REPORT 173,000 CASES OF IDENTITY FRAUD IN 2016

“The latest CIFAS figures show the highest ever record of identity fraud cases last year, and it is now the number one fraud threat to UK businesses and consumers, accounting for 53% of all fraud. With identity fraud only set to rise further, businesses and consumers need to take action to address this damaging issue.

“Serious steps need to be taken by financial services companies to strengthen the security systems they have in place and the way they verify identities, especially for online applications. Companies need to consider investment in biometric processes to validate identities, and implement multi-layer approaches to challenge fraudsters’ attempts to compromise systems. Consumers are embracing biometrics in their everyday lives, for example using them to access their smartphones and in their passports, and financial services companies can maximise this technology to protect their customers and their businesses.

“There is a worrying knowledge gap in terms of how consumers determine safe places to share personal information. People are not aware of the value and opportunity their most basic personal details offer to fraudsters. Just a name, address and date of birth can be enough information for a criminal to steal an identity and financially exploit it, for example, by applying for a loan or credit card. With the increasing inclusion of personal information on social media, fraudsters are able to access an expanding pool of data which they can easily abuse. Individuals must take care to protect their details, and the financial industry must continue to work together to educate its customers to support this.”

For consumers, the following steps should be strictly followed as a first line of defence:

  1. Do not do your banking in public places and definitely not on public Wi-Fi (establishing bogus public Wi-Fi hotspots is a way for criminals to access devices and information)
  2. Never respond to unprompted banking messages unless you are absolutely certain the request is genuine
  3. Be very aware of the domain names used and the security signs visible in a browser. Make sure you log on to a banking website at a web address you know, not via a link
  4. Never provide any banking details to a third party you don’t know or are unsure about (in part or as a whole)
  5. Avoid unnecessarily sharing details such as your name, address and date of birth as fraudsters can exploit this information and steal your identity.
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