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Data on the prevalence of identity fraud within the United Kingdom continues to grow and is significantly more comprehensible than in other European countries. The Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System (CIFAS), for example, has records of consumer complaints about identity fraud dating back to 1999. The table below demonstrates how from 1999 until 2006 identity fraud complaints continued to rise consistently. The most recent data on 2007, however, indicate a small decline in the number of complaints filed by victims of identity fraud. Whether this decline is the beginning sign of an overall declining trend is a question which only time can answer.  


Cases Recorded



















Table 5.1. Number of Victims per year according to the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System (CIFAS).  

In addition to the data provided and maintained by CIFAS, there is also (limited) survey data available. The Home Office published statistics on plastic card and identity fraud in 2007. These statistics are the findings of the 2005/06 British Crime Survey. The findings on identity fraud provided within the Home Office Statistical Bulletin contain results from the ‘newly-introduced BCS module on this emerging new crime type.’ The authors describe how “Whilst…there are inherent difficulties with obtaining good measures of crimes involving deception, the BCS can provide useful evidence on the experience of such crimes amongst the general population.” The BCS module is also an attempt to increase the knowledge base about identity fraud prevalence. Within the report, it is stated how due to the problems with the accuracy of police records due to lack of reporting and categorization issues (i.e. fraud as deception), “The Home Office, following discussion with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the financial sector, have decided that to reduce the level of bureaucracy involved in fraud recording, and to streamline the reporting and initial investigation of frauds, all cases of economic fraud (involving the use of plastic cards, online banking, or cheques) will be recorded by the financial institution concerned from 1 April 2007. The financial organisations will then be responsible for undertaking further verification and initial investigation, and, as appropriate, reporting cases of criminal activity directly to the police for further investigation.” The survey posed questions to the respondents in a number of categories including plastic card usage. With regard to usage of plastic cards, 83 per cent of all respondents used plastic cards during the previous year. Other findings demonstrate how, “[a]dults living in households in the higher income groups had the highest levels of usage and other variables associated with higher income status reflected this pattern.” Of all the respondents using plastic cards, four per cent became a victim of fraud during the previous year.

Jacqueline Hoare and Charlotte Wood also provide an analysis on which individuals are more likely to fall victim to identity fraud based on the demographic make up of the victimised respondents. According to the authors, men between the ages of 35 and 44 are more likely to fall victim to identity fraud than those between the ages of 16 to 24. With regard to women, the lowest age category appears to be more likely to fall victim to identity fraud than their male counterparts of the same age. The survey also provides data on identity fraud through the misuse of personal information. According to the findings, two per cent of respondents fell victim to this type of identity fraud.


Table 5.2. Proportion of adults whose personal details have been used without permission

In addition to assessing the percentage of victims and the likelihood of someone falling victim to identity fraud based on age and gender, the BCS also questioned respondents on their fears of falling victim to identity fraud. The findings indicate how more than half (57%) of plastic card users were fairly or very worried of falling victim to card fraud. Hoare and Wood note how that is “a level that is higher than other crime types asked about in the BCS.” This can be observed in Figure 5.1 below.


Figure 5.1. Proportion of adults who said they were very worried about becoming a victim of crime 

In October 2008, results from another module will become available and will provide an opportunity to unravel any patterns with regard to identity-related crime in general and with regard to specific aspects of identity fraud. Individuals within the Home Office place a lot of confidence in the BCS. The reliability and importance of the British Crime Survey rest in the fact that it is a proper survey conducted on random samples of the population and does not start with reports of crime. 

Currently, a National Fraud Reporting Centre is under construction. The funding for this Centre just came through and developments are under way. Through three different sources, the future Centre is currently running a trial. These three different sources include CIFAS, Consumer Direct and APACS. The Centre is expected to be up and running in 2009. The main aim of the Centre is to get better statistical data and improve intelligence and awareness. The Centre should also provide an opportunity to analyse trends and patterns in order to build a greater awareness of the problem.  


United Kingdom  fidis-wp12-del12.7-identity-crime-in-Europe.sxw  Vulnerabilities
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