Credit card 'current address fraud' rising


Credit card fraud scheme risingIdentity fraud has long been a concern to Britons, particularly amid the rise in popularity of credit cards. According to CIFAS, the UK's Fraud Prevention Service, this type of fraud continued to increase in 2009. However, the body drew particular attention to a more sophisticated method of attack, which involves the use of current address details.

Current address fraud
CIFAS members found that identity fraud as a whole increased by 32% on a year-on-year basis in 2009. However, the research also showed that current address fraud, where criminals use up-to-date residence details, accounted for 55% of all cases, compared to just 31% for the previous 12-month period. Traditionally, criminals will find it difficult to exploit consumers if they gain possession of a former address, as most companies connected to an individual will have the most recent details. But according to CIFAS, a 24% increase in current address fraud relating to credit card applications was recorded last year, despite identity fraud associated with credit cards falling by 4%.

Thorough protection
The statistics are concerning because criminals are empowered if they have information relating to where consumers are currently residing. Credit card providers will struggle to ascertain that a fraudulent application is being made if all the associated details are verified. Richard Hurley, communications manager at CIFAS, explained that the findings should prompt Britons to ensure that they protect all their personal information thoroughly.

He said: "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."

Getting ahead of the game
So how can consumers get one step ahead of the thieves and prevent them from acquiring current address details? Mr Hurley suggested that bank statements and expired credit cards should be destroyed and disposed of in as secure a fashion as possible. Furthermore, he urged consumers to keep any "sensitive electronic documents" 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," he added.

If credit card holders can be responsible with their information and follow the guidelines listed above, then CIFAS will hopefully be reporting a decline in current address fraud when it publishes the same research for 2010.

Published: 9 April 2010