Identity fraud has fallen for the first time since 2014 but remains “uncomfortably high” amid more personal information available online, according to a report.
Fraud prevention body Cifas recorded a 5% drop in identity fraud in the first half of this year compared to the same time last year, with the number of cases falling from 89,199 to 84,463.
The figures show a 12% fall in the volume of bank accounts being targeted by identity fraudsters, and a 34% drop in attempts to obtain mobile phone contracts.
However there has been a sharp 12% rise in fraudsters applying for plastic card accounts, while identity fraud against online retail accounts has risen by 24%.
Despite the overall reduction, identity fraud still makes up more than half of all fraud recorded by Cifas, with 87% of cases perpetrated online.
Cifas said victims may not even realise that they have been targeted until a bill arrives for something they did not buy or they experience problems with their credit rating.
Fraudsters need access to their victim’s personal information such as name, date of birth, address, their bank and who they hold accounts with, and get hold of the details in a variety of ways ranging from stealing mail through to hacking, obtaining data on the dark and surface web, exploiting personal information on social media, or though “social engineering” where innocent parties are persuaded to give up personal information to someone pretending to be from their bank, the police or a trusted retailer.
Cifas director of strategy, policy and insight Sandra Peaston said: “Identity fraud cases reached record levels in 2017, therefore 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 and circumvent security measures. The re-targeting of plastic cards, following a drop in 2017, is a prime example of this.
“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.”