Brian Sims

Fraud cases set to soar amid ongoing cost of living crisis

UK FRAUD prevention service Cifas is warning that consumers and businesses face a growing risk of identity fraud as criminals prepare to target consumers during the cost of living crisis. The warning comes as 200,000 cases of fraudulent conduct were filed to the National Fraud Database in the first six months of 2022. That’s a rise of 11% when compared to last year.

As revealed in Cifas’ latest Fraudscape report, a large part of that rise has been soaring levels of identity fraud, with over 136,600 cases recorded in 2022 (up by one third on 2021). Although the main sectors targeted were plastic cards and bank accounts, there has also been a significant rise in telecom products being targeted.

The rise in the cost of living is providing criminals with new opportunities to steal personal and financial information. Already, Cifas is seeing a rise in consumers being targeted by phishing e-mails purporting to be from utility companies and claiming to provide savings on energy bills, as well as offering fuel vouchers, fake jobs and money-making opportunities. These e-mails are becoming increasingly sophisticated, as are the links within them designed to harvest personal and financial information.

Investment scams and ‘get rich quick’ offers are also on the rise and designed to tempt consumers into looking for ways in which to supplement their income.

Cifas has also seen reports of cyber attacks where victims are encouraged to share their computer screen using remote access desktop services, allowing criminals to steal information which will then be used to apply for products and services in their name.

Process vulnerabilities

As a result of the economic crisis, an increasing number of businesses are now expanding into the ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ space, meaning that fraudsters are looking for ways in which to exploit and take advantage of any vulnerabilities within their processes.

Fraud carried out by staff against their employer is also on the rise, with figures from the Cifas Internal Fraud Database showing cases up by almost 50% when compared to last year. The majority of these cases relate to individuals working in Contact Centres. These workers in particular have been targeted by criminals in order to gain access to accounts and processes.

Mike Haley, CEO at Cifas, said: “Everyone is at risk of being targeted by fraudsters, but the current economic crisis is making consumers even more vulnerable to fraud.”

Haley noted: “On average, Cifas members file a case to the National Fraud Database every two minutes, with three-in-five of these cases relating to identity fraud. Now more than ever, consumers and businesses need to be vigilant against fraudulent attacks and protect their personal and financial details from being stolen by opportunist criminals.”

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