Social Media contributes to deceased ID theft

Cifas’ latest figures claim that identity theft has significantly risen since 2010. In particular young people are increasingly becoming victim and the fraud prevention body believes this is in part due to the huge amount of information this age bracket posts on social media.

Criminal gangs are mining information from sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for personal information which can be used to replicate a person’s identity.

This trend is also likely contributing to the rise of deceased identity theft, which is also a growing problem in the UK. A search on social media sites for obituary posts reveals that increasingly people are sending condolences for loved ones online. This means that identity fraudsters can also easily obtain the personal information of people that have passed away and use it illegally to set up credit accounts including credit cards, catalogue accounts or other subscription services such as mobile phone accounts.

To counteract this increasingly common crime organisations need to screen applications against lists of deceased people to determine whether an application is bogus. Whilst the large majority are not fraudulent, the few that are can be incredibly costly since the identity theft of a deceased individual typically goes unnoticed for longer than that of a living person making deceased data far more attractive to criminals. Furthermore, our exclusive research amongst ex-offenders revealed that deceased identify fraud is a popular crime as it is considered quick and easy to execute.