Young renters are ID fraud targets
Young people living in rented accommodation are nearly three times as likely to be the target of an attempted identity fraud than other sectors of the population, a credit checking company has warned.
Nearly one in five (18%) detected cases of identity fraud last year involved renters who were predominantly young, single people in their 20s and 30s who were living in an urban area and studying or taking their first steps on the career ladder, according to analysis from Experian.
These people tend to rent privately, live in a flat, have a household income of £20,000-£29,000, have no children and use their smartphone often.
Nick Mothershaw, UK and Ireland director of identity and fraud at Experian, said: "Young renters are the biggest target for identity thieves.
"Shared hallways and easily accessible properties mean that rental tenants' details are most at risk compared to other demographics. Also they are prolific users of mobile and online services, meaning that fraudsters have even more avenues to try and steal people's details."
Affluent couples are the sector next most likely to be hit, making up around 11% of identity fraud attempts which were foiled last year before any money was taken.
People in this group include married couples whose successful careers have enabled them to buy a spacious home in a prestigious, well-established suburb. Some of those targeted will be elderly, retired couples and those whose children have flown the nest, while others will still be supporting teenage or young adult offspring.
These couples are particularly targeted for card and loan fraud and offer the potential for thieves to make higher value scams based on their large incomes, Experian said.
One in 10 targets of identity fraud attempts are high-status earners, mainly living in London, and the City area in particular.
Experian's findings are based on information from fraud prevention system National Hunter, which Experian operates on behalf of members.
It enables financial institutions to cross-match applications against more than 100 million previous application records to weed out potential frauds.
A recent report from Experian found that Identity theft makes up nearly half (47%) of foiled fraudulent current account applications.
Experian has suggested the surge in detected attempts by fraudsters' to open current accounts by using someone else's personal details could be partly due to the introduction of a new service in autumn 2013 to make the process of switching current account easier for consumers.
The length of time it takes to switch has been cut from up to 30 working days to seven. Fraudsters could be testing providers' current account application systems, Experian said.
Criminals see current accounts as a lucrative target as they can enable them to rack up debts in someone else's name by maxing out overdraft facilities, or use the account as a springboard to make other bogus credit applications, for anything from luxury cars to household goods or other credit products.
The sector least likely to be targeted by identity fraud, according to Experian's data, is a group it called "modest traditions". These are older people living in relatively inexpensive homes with the mortgage nearly paid off. These people tend to enjoy a reasonable standard of living and have lived in the same area for many years. They made up just over 2% of attempted identity frauds last year.
Mr Mothershaw said: "Wealthy couples also continue to find themselves as a target due to the large pay days on offer to identity thieves, but the good news is that financial institutions are constantly improving in the fight against fraud ."