Identity fraud - It's an epidemic

John MacGowan

Market Analysis

Identity fraud - It's an epidemic
ID fraud isn't just someone fraudulently using your credit card number to obtain goods - it's escalated to serious levels that now cost governments, businesses and individuals over a billion pounds annually.

The Fraud Advisory Panel, an independent body whose leading sponsor is the ICAEW, have recently published a guide for businesses and individuals entitled "Identity Theft : Do You Know the Signs?"; which can be downloaded from their website.

A recommended read and point of reference, the paper explains the prevalence and extent of identity theft, the ways in which it manifests itself and illustrations of how it is carried out.

A comprehensive document, the guide offers advice on both prevention and detection covering :

  • Application fraud - where the perpetrator applies for payment cards and financial products using the name and details of a chosen victim.
  • Account take-over - where the fraudster accumulates and collates appropriate information to dupe the victim's bank into accepting them as the victim and undertaking false instructions.
  • Wholesale assumption of the chosen victim's identity - by obtaining false identity documents (i.e. passport, driving licence) in order to mislead when committing offences. Assuming the identity of a deceased person is common in such deceptions.
  • Business identity fraud - obtaining

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  • and using sufficient information and business documentation (e.g. letterheads) to convince third parties that they are dealing with the genuine business (to its cost).
The paper offers good advice and includes recommendations on some, radical, issues as :
  • Data sharing and cross referencing across the public and private sectors
  • Protection of employees who blow the whistle on fraud
  • Asset recovery and how to use the civil courts to reduce losses Compliance
  • The implementation of technical and organisational methods to combat Id fraud.
Invest some time in studying this guide and the benefits could be substantial and rewarding.

Copyright 2003. Originally published by, reprinted with permission. provides IT decision makers with free daily e-mails containing news analysis, member-only discussion forums, free research, technology spotlights and free on-line consultancy. To register for a free e-mail subscription, click here.

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