As baby-faced hackers sit in their bedrooms plotting the next TalkTalk-style data breach, most ID thieves simply peruse obituaries columns and graveyards or look out for credit card application mailings for their next big payday, according to a group of ex-offenders.
That is the worrying conclusion of a new study by data specialists Wilmington Millennium, which shows deceased identity fraud and mail theft are second and third only to stealing someone’s wallet as the favoured method get their mitts on consumers’ personal information.
Wilmington Millennium asked ex-offenders to rank common methods of ID theft in order of popularity (see below). Four in five ex-offenders (79%) believed ID fraud was one of the easiest ways to obtain cash, over and above other crimes such as benefit fraud and burglary.
According to the BBC Money Programme ID fraud is now one of the UK’s fastest growing crimes, soaring at a rate of 500% per year. Figures from CIFAS reveal it costs that the annual cost to UK taxpayers is estimated at £3.3bn.
Karen Pritchard, product director for Halo at Wilmington Millennium said: “The fact that deceased identity fraud and mail fraud are so high up the list should be of massive concern to direct marketers and credit providers. Clearly criminals see these avenues as easy ways to generate cash. Consequently, businesses need to put processes into place to flag credit applications in the names of known deceased individuals and practice exemplary data hygiene for all direct marketing activity.”
The 10 most prevalent forms of identity theft as ranked by ex-offenders:
1. Stealing someone’s wallet/handbag to sell use payment cards/phones and personal information
2. Deceased identity fraud: gathering personal information of deceased individuals from obituaries and graveyards
3. Mail theft: obtaining someone’s mail including direct mail with the purpose of using any personal information fraudulently
4. SMSishing: sending bogus text messages with the aim of finding out bank details or personal information
5. Dumpster diving: stealing personal information from rubbish bins
6. Phishing: sending bogus emails and online communications with the aim of tricking a person into revealing personal information and bank details
7. Skimming and overlays: using a device to collect payment card details
8. Phone fraud: call unwitting consumers pretending to be from a reputable organisation and ask for personal information and bank details
9. Online fraud: set up a bogus shop/bank URL mirroring legitimate sites with the aim of gathering information or payment details
10. Change of address fraud: diverting someone’s post
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