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UK Customer Account Hackings Up By Nearly 50 pct In 2016

The number of online accounts being hacked in the United Kingdom (UK) nearly doubled in 2016 according to a new report. Fraud prevention service Cifas has released the latest edition of its annual report ‘Fraudscape’, analyzing data from 387 organizations that includes several major UK brands.

According to the report, facility takeovers, where a scammer pretends to be a genuine customer in order to take control of an account, was up significantly across the UK in 2016 reaching 22,525 from 15,497 reported in 2015.

Fraudsters are increasingly focusing on reaching customer’s directly as financial firms take several steps to safeguard their systems according to the report’s findings.

In total nearly 325,000 cases of fraud were reported in 2016, an increase of 1 per cent over the previous year. Cifas noted that the fraudsters in these schemes attacked all sorts of accounts including bank, telephone, credit card, email and other such services.


Many of these attacks took place via phone calls made typically to call centres where the imposter uses personal information gathered illegally to obtain control of the account. Cifas said that the increase in identity theft and facility takeovers indicated that criminals now had access to a lot more personal data than before through data breaches and social media.

Information like a person’s name, address, date of birth, and even the name of their bank was gathered by the fraudsters and then used to conduct transactions like applying for a loan or buying a product, leaving the victim with the bill.

In a statement, Simon Dukes Cifas chief executive said

Working together, organisations prevented £1 billion worth of fraud last year, but we know that as one method gets harder, fraudsters change tactic rather than stop. We are now seeing that the advances made in securing online access to customer accounts have led to fraudsters targeting the human being at the end of the phone

According to Dukes, educating customers was the key to preventing such attacks and he urged the government to do more to in this area. A separate report by Financial Fraud Action UK earlier this year showed that losses from fraud had jumped by two present to reach £768.8 million in 2016, with losses from credit and debit cards fraud jumping by nine per cent to £618 million.

Alex Neill, managing director of home products & services at consumer group Which? said that educating consumers wasn’t the only solution and highlighted the fact that banks and other financial institutions had to take advanced measures to raise their levels of protection.

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