Experian has revealed that Slough has overtaken London to become the identity fraud capital of the UK.
The Berkshire town recorded 25 identity fraud attempts for every 10,000 households, with residents targeted at around four times the UK national average - seven households in every 10,000. Residents of London, Gravesend, Birmingham, Luton, Manchester and Leicester, were also targeted at twice the national average rate.
London as a whole experienced 22 attempts for every 10,000 households, although attempts were not spread evenly across the capital. Financial service providers detected 78 incidents for every 10,000 households in East Ham, as residents were targeted at more than 11 times the national rate. Woolwich and Stratford also experienced significant identity fraud activity, recording 46 and 43 identity fraud attempts respectively for every 10,000 households.
While the instances of fraud across all financial products remained at a constant level between 2010 and 2011, with six in every 10,000 applications were found to be fraudulent. The data shows that there was a surge in identity theft via current accounts and mortgages during this period, with rates doubling, from six to 14 in every 10,000 applications, and quadrupling, from one to four in every 10,000, respectively. Identity fraud attempts on credit cards fell from 17 to four in every 10,000 applications.
For the first time, young people renting small flats from local councils or housing associations represent the demographic most likely to be targeted by identity fraudsters. This group, known in Experian's Mosaic classification as Upper Floor Living, saw its identity fraud risk score increase by 47 per cent to 256 in 2011. Its constituents are two and a half times more likely than the average UK resident to be targeted.
Previously, the wealthy Alpha Territory demographic - representing the wealthiest sections of society living in fashionable London neighbourhoods - were most likely to be targeted. The risk score for this group helved in 2011, from 301 in 2010 to 149, as fraudsters turned their attentions to younger and less affluent sections of society.
Nick Mothershaw, UK director of identity and fraud services at Experian, commented: "The increasing prominence of lower income demographics at the top of Experian's identity fraud risk table, alongside declining risk scores for the wealthiest groups, represents a notable shift in fraudsters' tactics.
"Identity fraudsters have traditionally focused the bulk of their attentions on the wealthiest sections of society living in prestigious London postcodes. Our research shows that the risk continues to spread, with the highest rates of identity fraud now to be found in the Thames Valley and London’s Olympic neighbourhoods.
"Financial services firms and other providers of credit recognise the financial and reputational risks associated with identity fraud, and have put in place increasingly sophisticated identity verification and anti-fraud measures to combat the threat. Individuals also have a role to play fighting the fraudsters and it is important that they take steps to protect their personal information."
Experian is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients in more than 80 countries. The company helps businesses to manage risk and assists in the areas of fraud prevention, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.
For more information, visit www.experian.co.uk
Head of PR, Credit Services & Decision Analytics
Experian UK & EMEA
+ 44 (0)115 992 2650
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