Fraudsters target cost of living crisis

28 Apr, 2022

Cifas has warned that fraudsters will cash in on our demand for debt as prices rise.

There were 360,000 fraud cases recorded on the National Fraud Database in 2021– back to pre-pandemic levels.

Identity fraud made up 63% of all cases – up 22% in 2021 – 91% of it was online.

24% of identity fraud victims are over the age of 61, with their cards and accounts a particular target

Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The cost-of-living crisis will be boom time for fraudsters – and young people and older people will be particularly at risk. Cifas data shows fraud cases are back on the rise and no-one is safe as fraudsters target every aspect of our financial lives.

Scammers are shape shifters and change their tactics depending on the situation. They adopt increasingly sophisticated strategies to target victims. We are seeing a rise in credit cards being used fraudulently as well as loan products being targeted. In 2021 fraudulent attempts to access loan products was up 39% and while many of these were declined there are still a huge number of people impacted. Older people – aged over 61 are disproportionately affected by this kind of crime.

This is something that is only going to get worse as the cost-of-living crisis deepens and we are forced to use more credit and debt to meet our costs. At a time when so many people are already struggling the prospect of being scammed is another worry people just don’t need.

The rise in scam activity also means criminals need accounts to transfer funds from these scams, so we are also seeing the misuse of bank accounts on the rise – up 17%. Almost three-quarters (72%) of this is related to ‘mule activity’ where stolen funds are placed in people’s bank accounts before being transferred elsewhere. Young people have been particularly targeted, particularly those aged 21-30, but there has also been a rise in activity among the under 21s. Many of them are approached via social media.

Fraud can take a huge financial and mental toll on the victims and their families – not everyone is able to recover the funds stolen and this can have lasting impact. Increased awareness of this activity is vital if we are to protect ourselves from the scammers.”