Mosaic analysis* reveals single people in their 20s and 30s, living in rented accommodation, are the group most likely to become victims of identity theft and are almost twice as likely to be targeted than the national average.
Of all criminal cases of identity theft uncovered between August 2013 and August 2014, almost one in five victims fell into this category (19 per cent).
In the past, fraudsters focused on wealthy individuals who offered the richest pickings, but now young renters have also become prime candidates for identity theft. A key reason for this is that rented accommodation is often more easily accessible, more likely to have shared hallways, where it is easier to intercept post.
There are also now growing numbers of young renters, as rising property prices, particularly in urban areas such as London, have meant that young people cannot afford to buy property. This group represents prolific users of online services which means the opportunity for identity thieves to gain their personal information will only increase.
But affluent couples living in prestigious areas are also still seeing their fair share of fraud. Wealthy couples are the second most popular targets for identity thieves, accounting for 11 per cent of all identity theft recorded during 2014. They are particularly targeted for card and loan fraud, falling victim to 14 per cent of all fraudulent card applications and 17 per cent of all fraudulent loan applications made during 2014.
Affluent couples are perhaps the most obvious target for identity thieves, who are enticed by the high pay-outs and credit limits this group have access to, with many fraudsters typically targeting wealthy couples to make bogus credit card and loan applications.
Identity theft hotspots
Regional analysis reveals that affluent areas in Greater London, such as Caversham, Beaconsfield, Hertford, Harlow, Brentwood, Maidstone, Crawley, Cobham, Leatherhead, Effingham and Ascot prove to be prime locations for identity theft in 2014.
In the meantime, consumers – or first-party fraudsters – are mostly concentrated in London with analysis suggesting perpetrators are more likely to emerge from areas including Ilford, Croydon, Brixton, Bromley, Wembley, Edgware, Hounslow and Romford.
Areas outside of London, such as Luton, Slough and Dorchester, as well as rural areas in the North of England and the Highlands, also have some of the highest concentration of first-party fraudsters.
Top priorities for financial services
Tackling both identity theft and first-party fraud needs to remain a top priority for financial services providers and each of us also need to be vigilant in how we protect our personal information as we go about our daily lives both on and off line.
Ensuring you are on the electoral role can really help lender verify your identity and protect you from any fraudulent applications attempted in your name. Ensure you shred all financial documents before discarding them and do not leave your mail lying around in shared hallways ready for the taking. To spot fraudulent activity at the earliest stage, before you suffer financial loss, keep a very close eye on your credit report and if you see any credit checks carried out for services you have not asked for – act quickly and ask your credit reference agency to investigate.
An identity fraudster will be looking for a variety of personally identifiable information about a victim in order to be able to commit fraud such as full name, date of birth, current address and even passwords or even PINs to their accounts.
Fraudsters’ five most-wanted items and practical steps to avoid becoming a victim to identity theft
1. A bank statement — if fraudsters are really lucky it might indicate your overdraft limit as well as your full name, address and account number.
2. A credit card statement — this won’t contain your PIN, meaning they can’t use the card account in a British retailer, but it could be enough to buy from foreign websites.
3. Access to your social networking page — on social media sites, you might give away your date of birth and enough information for them to guess your PIN and passwords.
4. The security code on the back of your credit card — this is used to prove you are in possession of the card when you buy online or by mail or telephone order. Fraudsters who have managed to get hold of a name, address and card data are now calling or e-mailing people pretending to be security staff and asking for the code, which allows them up to steal even larger sums in more locations.
5. Your driving licence or passport — provides vital photographic ID that can be amended by an expert and used to prove that he or she is actually you
Constantly consider the risks, threats and the steps available
Online Passwords – Always use secure, unique passwords for as many online accounts as possible. At the very least have a unique password for each type of service provider such as financial services, retails services and email.Emails – Don’t be tempted to open emails and links or attachments received from people you don’t know. If an email seems suspicious, contact the relevant organisation and don’t give out personal details.
Account details – Don’t store account names and passwords on your smartphone, either in e-mail, as a note, or to ‘autocomplete’ when you open a website or app. It will be goldmine for fraudsters if your device is lost or stolen.
Social media – Be cautious and don’t add people you don’t know. Remember what you might consider to be unimportant information like your birthday, email address or dog’s name could all be misused by criminals.
Credit wise – Monitor your credit report and your bank statement regularly – it will help you spot any suspicious activity as early as possible to avoid financial loss.
Know where your details go – Finally, if you think you don’t protect your personal online information as you should, services like Experian’s web monitoring tool, available through Experian CreditExpert, will constantly monitor the wider web for mentions of your personal information, sending you an instant notification if your information appears somewhere new online. This helps ensure you can take immediate steps to resolve any potential fraudulent activity before you are negatively affected.
* Based on August 2013 to August 2014 fraud data. Experian’s Fraud Index is based on data derived from National Hunter and Insurance Hunter, the UK’s leading fraud prevention systems, operated by Experian on behalf of members. These systems enable financial institutions to cross-match applications against over 100 million previous application records in order to spot commonalities and anomalies that are potentially indicative of fraud for further investigation.