Incidents of identity fraud grew by almost 10 percent in the first nine months of 2010, compared with the same period in the previous year, according to a report from Cifas, a UK industry group focusing on fraud prevention. At the same time, the number of people who had their identity stolen by criminals rose by about 18 percent, to 70,000 victims.
Those figures reflect the increasing impact of e-crime, Cifas said in its Digital Thieves report (PDF), released on 15 October as part of its National Identity Fraud Prevention Week. It argues that criminals who use phishing and malware to steal personal details end up with a random spread of victims. This contrasts with more traditional identity thieves, who are more likely to have targeted their victims, the report's authors said.
This map from the report shows where in the UK people are more likely to suffer identity fraud arising from e-crime, adjusted for population. Red is highest risk, with dark green representing the lowest risk. The map shows a range of distribution and risk across the country.
This map from Cifas describes the distribution of risk for traditional identity theft not linked to digital methods across the UK. This map shows far more 'safe' areas than the e-crime map.
This map, produced by Cifas with long-time partner Ordnance Survey, gives a national overview of where victims, rather than instances of fraud, were found last year.
"In 2009, the distribution of areas with higher numbers of victims of fraud could be said to have followed the M6/M62 corridors out of London," the report states. In addition, most of the east coast from Northumberland to Suffolk was fairly clear of incidents, as were the English-Welsh border counties and other areas.
The map for 2010 paints a "considerably worse" picture, according to Cifas, with noticeable increases in victim numbers across the UK. The report's authors say that this is a sign that "the location of the victim is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the fraudster".
In response, the group is calling for government, businesses and consumers to step up their efforts to protect personal data, that will add up to a "comprehensive and unified approach" to the problem.
The four top spots for identity fraud victims are in London, in the SE, SW, E and N postcode areas, according to Cifas. Birmingham took the fifth spot in the organisation's analysis of ID frauds recorded by its members, which include financial and retail institutions.
This map is a breakdown of identity fraud and account takeover in London, showing a ratio of people living in the borough per victim. The dark red areas had the highest ratio, of 37 to 59 people to each victim, while the dark green areas had the lowest, of 166 to 234 people to each victim.