Slough tops London as ID fraud capital

walletSlough has overtaken London to become the identity fraud capital of the UK. That's according to credit watcher Experian.

The Berkshire town recorded 25 identity fraud attempts for every 10,000 households. Slough residents were 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. Substantial hotspots for identity fraud activity were found in and around London's Olympic neighbourhoods.

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.

Top 10 nationwide fraud hotspots by cases per 10k households

  1. Slough 25
  2. London (all) 22
  3. Gravesend 20
  4. Birmingham 17
  5. Luton 16
  6. Manchester 15
  7. Leicester 14
  8. High Wycombe 13
  9. Peterborough 13
  10. Windsor 12

Top 10 in London by cases per 10k households

  1. East Ham 78
  2. Woolwich 46
  3. Stratford 43
  4. Ilford 33
  5. Walthamstow 27
  6. Harrow 27
  7. Cheapside 26
  8. Lewisham 26
  9. Hatfield 26
  10. Enfield 26

Source: Experian, National Hunter and Insurance Hunter

Whilst the instances of fraud across all financial products remained at a constant level between 2010 and 2011 (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 doubling from six to 14 in every 10,000 applications, and mortgages quadrupling from one to four in every 10,000. Identity fraud attempts on credit cards fell from 17 to four in every 10,000 applications.

Young targeted

Most worryingly fraudsters turned their attention away from the wealthy to target Joe Public.

For the first time, young people renting small flats from local councils or housing associations were the most likely to be targeted by identity fraudsters. This group saw its identity fraud risk score increase by 47% to 256 in 2011. Its constituents are two-and-a-half times more likely than the average UK resident to be targeted.

Almost as high on the identity fraud danger list are a group of mostly young people with few qualifications who work in relatively menial, routine occupations, and live close to the centres of small towns or, in London, in areas developed prior to 1914 in terraced houses (risk score 242). This group saw its risk score increase by 75%.

Previously, 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.

Olympics targeted

Nick Mothershaw, UK director of identity & fraud services at Experian, said: "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."

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