The credit-checking agency Experian tell us that 2009 saw a 20% increase in identity fraud and 46% in first party fraud (people lying in application forms). Time to watch out!
According to Experian – which runs Creditexpert which you can join for free to check your credit record – the increase in identity fraud has come about because organised criminals have moved into the mass-market. They’re still targeting rich people but they’ve moved down-market too, going for people with a lot less money but who are often less savvy as well. Very mean!
Experian says that the recession has caused the surge in first-party fraud – i.e. individuals lying in order to get loans and insurance payouts – as a lot of people have been struggling to get credit and other financial services so they have resorted to lying.
They say, also, that mortgage and insurance providers could be hit to the tune of £1.2 billion and £2.5 billion worth of fraud respectively in 2010. Guess what, that money is going to come out of our pockets ultimately!
The hot-spots for organised crime attacks are the rich areas (Knightsbridge and Mayfair in London and rich cities such as Chester) while, not surprisingly, first party fraud is particularly rife in the poorest areas such as Stepney, Woolwich and Peckham in London and then Leicester, Birmingham and Bolton outside.
So the important thing for all of us is to be even more vigilant. Organised criminals are getting sneakier and sneakier with their methods. This is what they do full-time and they’re developing ever-more sophisticated ways of conning us out of our money and our identities.
So check your credit report now for free, just to see if anyone has taken your identity without your knowledge, and make it something you do regularly. As we become more of a global community it’s getting easier for fraudsters to take your personal and financial details and use them anywhere in the world. Make it harder for them!