Fraud dropped 20 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, compared with 2012, with a decrease seen in all the major types of fraud.
But according to CIFAS – the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service – the decline must be viewed with caution as overall patterns replicate many of the trends witnessed during 2012.
According to the organisation, identity fraud still accounted for the majority of all fraud (52 per cent), while misuse of accounts by the genuine account holder, and the takeover of an account by a third party remained the second and third most common types.
And although the level of identity fraud has decreased from the levels seen during Q1 2012, CIFAS said the scale is still daunting.
The total number of frauds related to the misuse of personal data accounted for 66 per cent of all frauds in 2013 so far, which is an increase from the 65 per cent seen for the whole of 2012.
Richard Hurley, comms manager at CIFAS, said firms and individuals should always be on the offensive against fraudsters.
“CIFAS has previously commented that organisations and individuals now exist in an age of data-driven fraud,” he said. “This signals a challenge to all parties – from consumers to financial institutions, government to police – to review the steps we all take to combat fraud and not simply to assume that security is ‘someone else’s responsibility’.
“While numbers may seem to be down for the moment, the continued prevalence of data-driven identity-related crimes must surely signal that much still remains to be done.”
Interestingly, CIFAS’ findings revealed misuse of facility fraud (where a legitimately obtained account is used fraudulently) also decreased during the first three months of the year, but like identity fraud and facility/account takeover, the presence of other organised criminality is still a contributory factor.
Hurley added: “Whether it is allowing an account to be used to receive stolen funds, or trying to use stolen funds to settle bills, there are links between the fraudulent misuse of many accounts and the impersonation of innocent victims or the takeover of their accounts. Fraud is a crime that is frequently part of a larger, tangled web and the concept of organised criminals only being mafia-style gangsters is long gone.
“However, many frauds will not be a part of a larger conspiracy, but will be committed by opportunists. The onus therefore is really upon law enforcement and organisations (both public and private) to educate people of the dangers and risks and also to help individuals take decisive action to combat fraud.”
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