Identity fraud rife in Altrincham, as it is named worst area outside of London for crimes

By Sarah Hodgson

Identity thieves target Altrincham more than anywhere else in the country outside of London, new figures suggest.  

Credit scoring agency Experian revealed that in 2012 the town experienced more than three times the national average of identity fraud attempts – with 13 for every 10,000 adults.

Manchester and Stretford also ranked in the top ten of fraud hot-spots at joint sixth with eight cases per 10,000 adults.

This compares with 11 attempts for every 10,000 adults in London – the national average was four attempts for every 10,000 adults.

London’s average was on a whole, however the borough of East Ham recorded 27 attempts for every 10,000 people – the UK’s highest.

Nick Mothershaw, UK&I director of identity and fraud at Experian, said: “Fraudsters are clearly attracted to rich pickings in more affluent areas, where access to an identity might be harder to obtain but the prize makes it worth the extra effort.

“In this respect, more affluent locations in close proximity to major cities such as Altrincham in Cheshire, Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, Hatfield and St Albans by London, have become key targets for identity thieves.”

He said that identity theft was highest in inner-city areas and fraudsters target those with low to middle incomes – but also young couples living in new homes.

Given the challenging economic climate and on-going squeeze on incomes, the majority of fraud is attempted by individuals.

Much of this comes in the form of application fraud, with nearly 75% of application frauds being due to people purposefully misrepresenting their circumstances.

The report said: “Our analysis of first-party fraud shows that, generally, it is those on low incomes, with thin or empty credit files, who are attempting to ease their financial position by misrepresenting applications or making exaggerated claims over their income and personal circumstances.”

Although he says that they are seeing increasing cases of young, well educated professionals living in major cities committing the offence too.

The report shows that mortgage fraud has risen for the sixth successive year and Experian predicts this trend will continue as cash-strapped borrowers increase.

Hunter Services, an application fraud prevention company, found last year that four people from the same address in Manchester committed the offence.

The individuals were found to be manipulating income and affordability in order to get their hands on lucrative mortgage deals.

Other areas that fall foul of application fraudsters are automotive finance, credit card and current accounts, loan and insurance companies – the insurance fraud business is estimated to be worth £1billion-a-year.

Experian are warning people to be more vigilant and take greater steps to protect themselves from identity theft.

ID theft continues to be a challenge, with many fraudsters who are willing to use any identity other than their own making use of false and stolen documents.

Hunter Services also uncovered a third-party fake ID savings scam in Manchester which involved 39 individuals.

Experian warn that fraudsters will continue to be fast, adaptable, inventive and indiscriminate in their attempts to get access to funds.

In addition, the proliferation of mobile and online channels and the prevalence and relative naivety of social media use adds extra pressure onto fraud investigators.

Picture courtesy of StormKatt, with thanks.

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