UK Fraud rises 6% – And 20 ways to avoid identity theft

21st June 2019.

Cifas, the UK’s fraud prevention service released this week its annual publication Fraudscape and it paints an alarming picture of fraud in the UK.

They identify and analyse the country’s fraud trends based on 323,660 cases of fraudulent conduct recorded in 2018. The data, from over 470 organisations, including large UK brands from across the sectors, is one of the most comprehensive pictures of fraud and fraudulent attempts in the UK.

With an overall increase of 6% in cases recorded by Cifas members, the new figures show significant areas of concern.

Key findings from the Cifas’ annual report Fraudscape include:-

  • Identity fraud reach record highs with plastic cards taking the brunt of the fraud. Identity fraud significantly increased in 2018, with 189,108 cases recorded an 8% increase on 2017’s figures.
  • Plastic cards were hit the hardest with 82,608 reports of fraud, up 41% from 2017.
  • More fraud means more victims – 19 out of 20 frauds involved a victim left to pick up the pieces.
  • Cifas reports increases in identity fraud across all age groups but particularly the young and old. Victims aged 21 and under rose 26%, while the over-60s saw an alarming 34% increase on the previous year.
  • As older people are more likely to be approved for credit and their online presence grows, fraudsters are increasingly targeting them online: in 2018 more than 33,000 over-60s were the victim of identity fraud.
  • Cases which are indicative of money mule activity are up across the board with a 26% increase from 2017, and Cifas has seen a steep incline in those aged 40- 60 becoming involved in such activity, increasing 35%. This illustrates that being drawn into such criminality is not a problem limited to younger generations.

Chief Executive Officer of Cifas, Mike Haley, says: “Fraud in the UK continues to rise and fraudsters are constantly finding new methods of committing fraud. From identity theft through to using the young and naïve as money mules to launder money, the economic and social harm to the nation is growing. The only way to fight the threat is to combine communication and collaboration, working together to present a united front against the perpetrators. As no one can expect to deliver effective defense against ever-present threats without the full picture, Fraudscape is a crucial weapon in fraud prevention, allowing us to see where the current attacks are coming from and where future dangers lie.’

see our blog – 15 steps to avoid invoice fraud

Here are 20 ways to help reduce the risk of identity theft now

1. Don’t Give out Personal Information to Just Anyone

There are a lot of scammers and identity thieves out there who will pretend to be a debt collector, bank, charity or a local business in order to convince you to give out your personal information such as address, date of birth, or any information that they can use. They will call you, email you and send you mail so be diligent in reviewing any of the above communications.  Beware they can be very convincing and they are very good at imitating the real thing.

2. Avoid Clicking on Links You Are Unsure About

Fraudsters are really good about attracting your attention through emails that look like they come from businesses or people you know (and don’t assume just because you know the name of the person sending the email it’s actually them—check the actual email address too).

If something seems off about an email and they are asking you to click a link to an offer or action, don’t click on that link. Instead, roll over the link with your mouse and you can see the destination URL that you will be sent to. This is a safer approach and can help you avoid malware, phishing scams or viruses to gather your data. If it turns out it’s fake, you can let the business know so they warn others.

3. Shred Your Documents

Using a shredder can take extra time but that adds a layer of protection down the road. While many people are opting for email or text alerts for bill notifications, identity thieves are still happy to rummage through your rubbish bins as a way to gather personal information.

4. Don’t carry excess personal information about with you

You rarely need to show people your national insurance number or passport or other documents containing private information but people still carry plenty of private documents around with them. If you accidentally misplaced them, or are the victim of a pick pocket then suddenly you have given the criminal world plenty of tools to steal your identity.Keep documents secure at home, preferably locked away.

5. Only Carry Credit Cards You Actually Need Daily

There’s no need to carry around cards you rarely use. Minimize the risk of losing your cards by only having the ones you use on a regular basis.

6. Protect Your Mailbox

This old-school theft is still common today. If you have an external mailbox instead of a letterbox in your door, make sure you lock your mailbox so thieves can’t come and pick up your mail while you are away from home.

You may also want to consider having smaller packages delivered to your work address so you receive them during the day versus having them left unattended on your porch. If you are going to be gone for a while, consider arranging for someone trusted to care for your mail.

7. Monitor Your Online Accounts

If you haven’t set up account notifications from the financial institutions with whom you do business, then do so. Staying up-to-date on changes to your accounts is important and a quick notification sent to your smart device can make all the difference in maintaining peace of mind. There are also plenty of products out there that provide credit and identity monitoring.

8. Create Strong Passwords

Avoid using the same password across multiple sites as well. You can use password managers that are available or the suggested password features from your smartphone as well.

9. Use Two-Factor Authentication

This tool adds a layer of security to your online accounts in addition to your password. Two-factor authentication requires you to provide a second piece of proof to verify your identity which can mean entering a code sent to your smartphone or computer, and many institutions require it when customers want to change account details.

10. Don’t Use Public Wifi to Access Sensitive Data

We all seem to want to be connected all the time, so using free public wi-fi is very tempting. It’s not always safe though, hackers and others can set up their own free wifi networks and scrape your data as a result. Make sure the network you are connected to is secure and can be trusted. If you’re not sure, then don’t take the chance.

11. Check Your Credit Report Regularly

To ensure all the data is accurate and that nobody has opened up accounts under your name, make sure to check your credit reports at least yearly.

12. Cut Old Credit Cards Up

It’s important to destroy any old credit cards and any other cards that have personal information about you or your family members that could be used by identity thieves. Every little detail about you can be used to build a synthetic identity, piecing together the information needed to open up a credit card account in your name.

13. Shop Online With Trusted Sites

Using secure and trusted websites to shop online can help further protect your personal and credit card information when you purchase items. For example, if you’re shopping on a website, make sure that there’s an “https” before the URL, instead of just an “HTTP.”

14. Don’t Overshare on Social Networks

That advice seems like an oxymoron these days but identity thieves will often scan social networks for personal information to piece together identities. Never post any personal information, location data, and even what items are included in a picture (like a credit card on a table) that you do share. Also, make sure social media accounts like Facebook are not viewable by people you don’t know.  Beware of posting stuff that could give away your date of birth or even photos or posts that could reveal your address.

15. Don’t Respond to Unsolicited Requests

If someone you don’t know asks for personal information (your name, birthdate, address, or bank account number) by phone, mail, or online, just say no!

16. Consider Freezing or Locking Your Credit

A credit freeze will not affect your credit scores, but it will prevent your credit report from being accessed by lenders and used to do many things including opening new accounts, renting property, or applying for loans.

If you need to do any of these things, then you’ll have to temporarily suspend your credit freeze.

17. Monitor Billing Cycles

If you start to notice your bills or financial statements are showing up late then you should contact the lender or business to find out the reason for the delay. Review your account statements and watch out for unauthorized transactions.

18. Implement Biometric Options

When possible, you can include a fingerprint, a handprint, an eye scan, and facial recognition to verify your identity rather than using a password or asking you a series of questions that you have to remember what you inputted when you set an account.

19. Keep up With the Latest in ID Theft

Pay attention to the news to know what the latest scams or breaches have taken place. Unfortunately, this has become too common, but being complacent can lead to a mistake. Staying up-to-date can mean the difference in protecting your identity from the latest threat or identifying a scammer or thief down the road.

20. Consider an Identity Theft Protection Service

Consider purchasing an identity theft protection plan or check with your existing insurance companies to see if you have any protection as part of your car or homeowners policies). These services typically go beyond credit monitoring and help you resolve any problems once they arise.


If you think you’ve been the victim of identity theft, there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself (contact the police, contact your banks, contact credit bureaus, freezing your credit), but ultimately the path you take to resolving the problem will depend on the nature of the crime.

For example, if someone has stolen your credit card, your course of action will be different than if someone opened a new credit card in your name.

Do you sell on credit?

With fraud on the increase it is essential that you stay on top of the credit limits you grant customers and watch carefully for any late payments or unusual ordering activity.

Fraudsters have been known to target suppliers and obtain goods on credit (often in the name of another company) and slowly build up to a large order before dissappearing and leaving a supplier with a large unpaid debt. Don’t let it be you.

It is essential to have credit management systems in place to monitor, verify  and check your customers identity and credit worthiness.

It is also best practice to use a trusted third party like CPA to make sure you are paid on time by customers, no matter how good a name they have.

See the section below – About CPA.

About CPA

The Credit Protection Association can help!

Formed in 1914, CPA has been providing credit management services to SMEs for over 100 years.

At the Credit Protection Association, we provide first class credit information that can help you avoid being over extended to customers who are at risk. Our monitoring service can flag up warning signs long before the end, giving you the chance to adjust and reduce your exposure. We provide recommended credit limits and credit scores on a traffic light system and can help you set appropriate credit policies for your customers.

We regularly publish lists of the latest insolvencies but by then it is too late. Our credit reports however predict approximately 96% of company insolvencies long before they arrive.

Companies in trouble usually have very bad cash flow and they try to deal with it by delaying payment to their suppliers, increasing your exposure to them.

If you supply on credit, help us help you identify the risks.

Why use a third party collector?

As a third party collector, we can also get your payments prioritised over those who are not as hot on collections. When you customer receives a letter from the Credit Protection Association regarding their outstanding account, they are going to want to get that resolved as a priority. Our overdue account recovery service can get your unpaid invoices to the top of their “to do” list and get your invoice paid.

Over the years we have collected billions in overdue invoices for our customers.

Our debt recovery and credit management services give our members the financial freedom needed to grow and prosper, while our new Late Payment Compensation department could unlock hidden potential and offer the compensation needed to springboard your business to success.

Ready to speak to an advisor?

For help or advice on credit management, entirely without obligation.

Call us today

0330 053 9263

CPA is passionate about late payment

The Credit Protection Association has been protecting smaller firms against poor payment practices for over 100 years.

We are passionate about breaking the late payment culture that holds back the UK economy and threatens many SMEs with cash flow difficulties being the single biggest killer of Britain’s small businesses.

If you were regularly paid late we can help. Those former customers used you to boost their own cashflow, regularly paying you late.

As a result you had extra costs, you had the distraction of having to chase payment, you had opportunity costs because your capital was tied up in their late invoices.

Under little used legislation, you are entitled to compensation for those late payments.

Now you can boost your own cash-flow.

CPA can help unearth the those hidden treasures.

We have the technology to reveal the compensation you are due and we have the extensive experience and expertise to then turn those claims into cash.

Yes, CPA can help you boost your business cashflow.

Don’t let your bankers control you, contact CPA today.

Read our blog here on how to crack down on the late payment culture.

Read our blog here on how to give late payers the slap they need.

visit our late payment compensation page

See our full blog and FAQ on late payment compensation

If you are also struggling, do you realise you could be sitting on a fortune?

Late payments often result in a cash flow crunch and leave SMEs in need of a cash injection.

If you are struggling and sold B2B on credit then there may be a hidden source of capital you can call on.

If you need extra capital, rather than shutting down or jumping through hoops with your bank, you could look to uncover the resources from an unexpected source within your own business.

Not many are aware but there could be a hidden fortune within your business, sitting there, just waiting to be uncovered and released.

We can help you uncover the pile of gold, you didn’t even know you were sitting on.

If you trade with other businesses and were often paid late then you could be entitled to significant compensation.

Under little known and under-utilised legislation your business could be due huge amounts in compensation that you didn’t even know about.

Let’s be clear – this is not a way to weaken any customer relationships you value. It is one that identifies who’s been paying late and then recover the potentially significant sums in compensation using Late Payment Legislation from businesses where the relationship has already ended.

You can pick and choose who you want us to follow up – but once we’ve agreed which companies you’d like to pursue compensation from it’s a fast process and there’s no financial outlay to you whatsoever. My team at CPA put its expertise to work to recover the compensation due and fight late payment culture.

That compensation could be the cash rescue your business needed.

But don’t delay, that compensation evaporates if not claimed within six years of the late payment.

How can CPA help?

CPA has developed a unique technology to dig into your accounting records and discover the cash injection you are due by means of compensation. The software does all the hard work. Our software interacts over the cloud with over 300 different software packages, working directly with your accounts package, just so long as it’s stored on a computer.

We recognise that most companies do not have the resources to spend time on the identification and calculation of Late Payment Compensation. Our service can produce an Analyses within just a few days with (usually) less than 30 mins of co-operation from our clients. We work directly with over 300 accounting packages but can also work with bespoke accounts packages. Indeed, speed is essential as the oldest invoices may fall foul of the 6-year time limit.

Once the Sales Ledger Analyses is made available to clients, all that is required is that management decide which commercially sensitive ex-customers to remove from the list and return it to us.

CPA then uses its years of collection experience to explain and recover the Late Payment Compensation Claims. Clients do not handle any part of the recovery process as our team will take all communications from the companies against who the claims has been made. Often, it’s simply a case of explaining the legislation, sometimes we have to go all the way and enforce the legislation through the courts.

The result is that we are realising clients’ claims worth tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds which, of course, is pure net profit.  You may also be among the recipients of “hundreds of thousands of pounds” should you elect to take advantage of our services.

We do the work, you receive the cash.

If you have supplied goods and services to businesses on credit and were regularly paid late then you could be due significant sums in late payment compensation.

We are talking to companies and unearthing claims in the hundreds of thousands from former business customers who paid them late. Large business customers who abused their power to inflict unfair and sometimes illegal payment practices.

We are helping companies that were looking to close down, who looked insolvent and finding that cash injection they need to avoid insolvency.

Ready to speak to an advisor?

For help or advice on credit management, entirely without obligation.

Call us today

0330 053 9263

The Credit Protection Association is a credit management company established in 1914. If you supply goods or services on credit then we can help you!

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