Identity theft

As identity theft soars nearly 50 percent year-on-year, large corporates are being warned about security processes. TalkTalk’s fine over a cyber attack, and Yahoo’s revelation of 500 million accounts being hacked, also prompted questions over whether creditors truly know their exposure. Amber-Ainsley Pritchard investigates

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Are creditors, from big banks to utilities and telecoms firms, doing enough to prevent identity fraud and reduce the exposure their customers face to cyber crime?


In a study Experian said around £10bn of identity fraud has been committed against individuals in the past year.


Research from Cifas, a not-for-profit company working to protect businesses, charities, public bodies and individuals from financial crime, found the number of identity fraud cases rose from 114,00 for the year 2014, compared to 170,000 cases in 2015.


In stark terms, the Cifas figures show that cases of identity theft have increased by nearly 50 percent between 2014 and 2015.


Might several big creditors be oblivious to the scale of identity fraud now being committed against their customers? The notion is becoming less far-fetched.


In short, identity fraud is carried out by fraudsters developing malware software and fake websites to create a veil of reality to trap consumers.


Fraudsters can then obtain personal data through the use of phishing and vishing attacks before selling on the information or using it to buy products and services, or obtain credit and debit cards.


Phishing is an electronic technique used to obtain usernames, passwords and data whereas vishing does the same thing but by cold-calling.


So, how are creditors generally protecting themselves and their customers?


Understandably, the banks we approached for comment would not go on record on precise activities.


Lloyds Banking Group says it takes its commitment to fraud prevention “seriously and invests heavily in detection systems”, while Virgin Money says it uses “a range of sophisticated techniques to prevent and detect fraud.”


However, a director of a cyber security at a big four accountancy firm indicated that Barclays has invested a “significant amount” to educate its team on prevention.


A spokesperson for Nationwide Building Society says: “We believe combating fraud is a joint effort, between us and our customers. We also invest in customer awareness initiatives, for example the current Take 5 campaign, which aims to raise awareness and understanding, therefore enabling customers to avoid becoming victims of financial crime.”


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