Identity theft could peak during Christmas shopping season, Experian warns

The number of credit card applications being identified as fraudulent has increased by more than a fifth this year, according to credit information company Experian.

It is warning that fraudulent activity could peak over the Christmas shopping period.

Detected – and prevented – identity frauds on credit card applications rose by 22% between January and September 2023, compared with the same period in 2022, Experian said, adding that the trend is expected to peak over November and December.

All unsolicited messages should be approached cautiously

Eduardo Castro, Experian

This type of crime is known as “third party” fraud – where someone’s identity or personal details are used without their consent or knowledge, to gain credit or products. Credit cards are often a focus for fraudsters as it can be a quick way to access money.

Eduardo Castro, managing director identity and fraud, Experian UK & Ireland, said: “The cost of being scammed by a fraudster is not just financial, as victims experience substantial distress too.

“Identity theft and fraud is increasingly prevalent in the UK, and it’s never been more important for people to think twice about their personal information.

“All unsolicited messages should be approached cautiously unless they are sure it’s genuine, and if there is an offer online which seems too good to be true, it more than likely is.”

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As part of efforts to warn consumers to stay vigilant to scams, particularly over Christmas, Experian has launched a new awareness campaign, featuring Father Christmas having his identity stolen.

Experian said it has prevented more than £1.9 billion of fraudulent transactions in the past 12 months, identifying a fraudulent application every minute of every day.

Its analysis is based on data from National Hunter, which helps the finance industry to prevent fraud.

National Hunter is a fraud prevention group made up of banks and financial service companies. Sharing information on fraudulent applications helps them to prevent further bogus application attempts.

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