Fraud is now costing the UK around £73bn a year, according to a watchdog's latest report. The National Fraud Authority (NFA) reveals the highest recorded figure has eclipsed last year's estimate of £38bn; meaning as the recession continues fraud is on the increase.
The Annual Fraud Indicator (AFI) report shows how fraud affects everyone, from big business to the most vulnerable individuals. Some £45.5bn of fraud was estimated to be in the private sector - up from last year's £12bn estimate - with the highest losses in banking, insurance, mortgages and business (source BBC online).
George Ford, director at Veriphy Ltd, which provides quick, affordable identity checks online, says all businesses need to be more vigilant: “The problem is that this kind of fraud is everywhere from big business down to the sole trader. Anyone who does business with another company, or indeed employs people, could be open to identity fraud.
“Criminals are now using a shockingly clever amount of methods to find out an individual’s personal details and are then using them to open bank accounts, get credit, mortgages, state benefits and phone contracts. They do this through illegally gaining documents such as passports and driving licences in someone else’s name, sometimes, sadly, even in the name of people who have passed away.
“Our service, in a nutshell, confirms (or not) in a matter of seconds that the individual is who they say they are and lives where they say they live. It is fully anti-money laundering compliant too, meeting the guidelines for regulated industries.”
Veriphy is unique in the marketplace as it is free to subscribe unlimited users and charges only a small amount for each identity check your business accesses. The company has doubled its turnover in the last year, which it puts down largely to the growth in fraudulent activity during the recession and the ease of use the Veriphy website offers companies.
George added: “Businesses are so keen to win new customers when times are hard they are taking on everyone that comes their way. In many cases they are neglecting security and verification checks, even in regulated environments like the legal and financial sectors, which have to check the identity of their customers by law, or face anti-money laundering fines.
“Unfortunately, sloppy practices and procedures are making it easy for criminals to commit fraud even when there are simple, straightforward tools to stop them in their tracks.
“We have to remember that people are desperate in tough times and that fraud is rife. In a financially uncertain economy we must strive to be more cautious, protecting our business with simple measures such as money laundering checks, credits checks and simple ID checks before entering into a commercial contract.
“As a company you have the right to know who you are working with and it is imperative that you get the right information. The data is out there and our sophisticated system makes it simple for you to get it.
“The cost of not knowing is huge – we save clients millions of pounds every month. Just a couple of months ago we stopped a bridging loan of £1.8m 24 hours before the money was due to be transferred. The fraudsters disappeared but left empty handed. They will no doubt be trying it on somewhere else at the moment.”
NFA Report Link: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/