UK Identity Theft Increases 27%
Official figures released by the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System (CIFAS) show that identity theft numbers have increased by 27% in the UK, with 34,151 incidents of identity theft reported to the not-for-profit group’s 245 members during the first quarter of the year. The group also said that this accounts for nearly half of all reported incidents of fraud, and that the majority of all frauds are committed or perpetrated online.
CIFAS also cautioned that these figures are just the tip of the iceberg, and urged the government to introduce national fraud data tracking and measurement, in order to be able to truly ascertain the actual level of fraud that is committed. They also said that thieves see the internet as providing a relatively risk-free and potentially very profitable means of committing crimes and that a review of sentencing for these crimes could help act as a greater deterrent and keep identity thieves off the streets.
The report outlined a number of issues, and problems that are currently faced by police and other agencies. One of the key problems, according to CIFAS, is that the exact time and location of identity theft is typically not know, and this means that preventative measures are very difficult to introduce and implement.
The role of organised crime is another area that the body believes requires further investigation. It has been reported in the past that organised crime rings are using online identity theft as a means to raise money and to profit. 125,000 people were affected by the crime last year, and figures could well surpass 150,000 this year, highlighting a worrying trend, especially if organised crime gangs are behind the thefts. Further research may help identify those responsible, and could also indicate how the money raised is being used.
Identity theft is a major concern, and people are often warned to take care whether shopping online or in physical shops and restaurants. However, with 8 out of 10 instances of fraud now committed online, greater online security should be encouraged and the government should look at harsher sentences for those that are found guilty of the crimes.