Deceased identity and mail fraud most popular crime

During November we worked with Unlock, a charity for ex-offenders, to find out a little bit more about the issue of identity theft, which is one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK. The shocking results revealed that the large majority (four in five) of ex-offenders think ID theft is one of the easiest ways to generate cash quickly.

We asked them to rank the common methods of ID fraud in order of ease and popularity and deceased identity fraud – stealing the personal information of people that have died for fraudulent purposes and mail fraud – stealing post with the express aim of obtaining personal details were found to be the second and third most prevalent forms of identity theft, which has significant implications for the direct marketing and credit industries. Clearly criminals see these avenues as easy ways to generate cash. Consequently, businesses need to put processes into place to flag credit applications in the names of known deceased individuals and practice exemplary data hygiene for all direct marketing activity. For credit providers this means investing in deceased identity fraud files, like Halo, which identify possible fraudulent applications and for direct marketers screening against goneaway and deceased suppression files to ensure that communications reach their intended recipients.

The 10 most prevalent forms of identity theft as ranked by ex-offenders were found to be:

1. Stealing someone’s wallet/handbag to sell use payment cards/phones and personal information

2. Deceased identity fraud – gathering personal information of deceased individuals from obituaries and graveyards

3. Mail theft – obtaining someone’s mail with the purpose of using any personal information fraudulently

4. SMSishing – sending bogus text messages with the aim of finding out bank details or personal information

5. Dumpster diving – stealing personal information from rubbish bins

6. Phishing – sending bogus emails and online communications with the aim of tricking a person into revealing personal information and bank details

7. Skimming and overlays– using a device to collect payment card details

8. Phone fraud – call unwitting consumers pretending to be from a reputable organisation and ask for personal information and bank details

9. Online fraud – set up a bogus shop/bank URL mirroring legitimate sites with the aim of gathering information or payment details

10. Change of address fraud – diverting someone’s post

According to BBC Money Programme identity fraud is now one of the UK’s fastest growing crimes growing at a rate of 500 per cent per year. Figures from CIFAS reveal it costs the UK taxpayer an estimated £3.3 billion per year.