Record numbers of us lying to our banks

Debit cardAs current account fraud hits a new record high, John Fitzsimons finds out why so many of us are lying to our banks, and what happens if we get caught.

A current account is perhaps the most ubiquitous financial product around. A study by the Office of Fair Trading a couple of years ago found that 90% of us use them regularly. But according to new research, the humble bank account is also the subject of a fast growing form of fraud.James Taylor, Head of PR at Experian, told me that the firm's Fraud Index had found that current account fraud is now at a record high.

"Current account fraud has surged over the last few years," he said. "Going back five years, it was almost not a problem. Now it's the most targeted financial product. 44 in every 10,000 applications in the first quarter of this year were found to be fraudulent."

One area of particular concern is people lying about their financial status or history in order to try to get their hands on overdrafts or other credit that they would not normally qualify for.

So how good are the banks at spotting fraudulent activity? And what happens if you get caught?

Richard Hurley, Communications Manager of fraud prevention service CIFAS, explained that banks undertake rigorous checks before approving applications, to ensure you really are who you say you are.

He continued: "No bank is under any obligation to offer a bank account to an individual. If they detect fraud on the account, it doesn't mean they have to keep the account open." He cited the example of an applicant using falsified payslips to get a current account that they have every intention of maintaining properly. This is still fraud, so in all likelihood the bank will close the account, shutting the applicant out. This can then lead to further issues down the line with future bank accounts.

Getting caught trying to lie to your bank can have some pretty unpleasant ramifications. So why are more of us attempting to kid our bank managers?

Matt Hartley, Media Officer of the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, suggested it's a symptom of how tricky many people are finding things at the moment. He added: "Rather than trying to secure further lines of credit, it's important to look at the underlying causes of your difficulty. More credit is not the answer if you already have a debt problem, it will only make things worse."

Lying to your bank is never the answer. No matter how bad your money worries may be now, they'll be an awful lot worse if you get caught attempting current account fraud.

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