Brian Sims

Consumer services ‘hijacks’ on rise as Cifas signposts 9% uptick in 2023

CRIMINALS ARE turning more towards targeting existing consumer services in 2023, with telecoms, online retail and plastic card products particularly under attack. In its latest Fraudscape report, Cifas – the UK’s leading fraud prevention service – details that its members recorded nearly 278,000 cases to the National Fraud Database in the first nine months of this year.

Of that total, more than 30,000 cases related to facility takeover, representing a 9% increase compared to the same time period in 2022. Also known as account takeover, facility takeover occurs when criminals compromise personal data to hijack an existing product.

The latest data from Cifas highlight that:

*42% of facility takeover cases concerned telecoms products (up 71%), while 24% were focused on online retail. Facility takeover is also up 11% against plastic cards

*59% of hijacks occurred via online channels and 18% through telephony channels

*Individuals aged 61 and over were more likely to be targeted over any other age group, with just over a quarter (ie 26%) falling victim (that’s a rise of 8% compared to the same timeframe in 2022)

Impersonating banking staff remains a key tactic, with criminals calling victims under the guise of a suspicious transaction being identified within their account. They then persuade the individual to yield personal and financial information or share their screen to access accounts.

As a result, they are able to hijack existing consumers services, often upgrading the innocent party’s phone contract to obtain the latest phone handset, purchase goods through their online retail account, extend credit or take out new loans.

Challenging economic climate

Amber Burridge, head of intelligence for Cifas, said: “Criminals are specifically targeting victims’ existing financial products and services. It’s a development which could be in response to lenders reacting to a challenging economic climate by tightening their affordability checks on new customer applications.”

Burridge continued: “They are also pinpointing Contact Centres where they can socially engineer staff in a bid to gain access to accounts. A favoured tactic is taking advantage of remote working employees who may find it more difficult to identify a fraudulent call.”

Further, Burridge noted: “Criminals continue to explore new ways in which they can profit from the most vulnerable point in the chain. Often, that means exploiting a trusting person on the other end of the phone. With key dates coming up, including Black Friday and the Christmas period, there will likely be a spike in these types of calls that people receive. Consumers must remain vigilant and never give away personal or financial information.”

Further figures from the National Fraud Database in the first nine months of 2023 show that just over 178,500 cases of identity fraud have been recorded, in turn accounting for 64% of total cases. Misuse of facility fraud is also up 3% (at nearly 54,000 cases) compared to the same period last year.

Company Info


64 High Street, RH19 3DE
East Grinstead
RH19 3DE

04478 18 574309

Login / Sign up