Identity fraud more sophisticated

Current address fraud (as a type of identity fraud) requires a greater level of sophistication from the identity fraudster. Rather than use details from a victim's previous address, identity fraudsters impersonate their victims more successfully if they can obtain a full set of their victims' details and attempt to impersonate them at their current address. This makes any application seem more legitimate and can help to make it much more difficult for businesses to detect fraud.

Current address fraud accounted for over 55% of all identity frauds recorded in 2009, but just 31% in 2008. The increase represents a staggering 78% in just 12 months. Nearly 85% of identity frauds committed against mail order accounts in 2009 were done this way. Bank accounts and communications also witnessed large scale rises. Most telling are those current address frauds committed against plastic card accounts such as credit cards. A 24% increase in current address fraud was recorded in 2009, compared with 2008, even though identity fraud (overall) decreased by 4% in the same year.

Richard Hurley, CIFAS communications manager, commented: "Consumers must be increasingly aware and vigilant - and ensure that they protect all of their details. The rise in this more sophisticated kind of fraud can often be perpetrated by organised criminal networks exploiting our use of computers and the internet to obtain, by stealth (for example through phishing attacks or malware) a more complete set of our details.

"Not only must consumers dispose of physical details in a secure manner, but they must also ensure that sensitive electronic documents are kept separate from each other. Scanned documents and account details must, preferably, not be kept on computer hard drives but, more preferably, be backed up onto discs and full virus and malware protection products must be in place.

"People owe it to themselves to do all they can to prevent these criminals from abusing their details."