Overall Fraud at Pre-Pandemic Levels But Advance Fee Fraud Growth a Concern

Chad Reimers, general manager of fraud & ID at TransUnion in the UK, comments on the recent ONS fraud statistics:

“The latest fraud figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that overall fraud rates have returned to pre-pandemic levels. This would align with typical fraud patterns, where fraudsters adapt their targets and tactics in line with sudden changes in consumer behaviour. It may also be linked to improved controls that were widely implemented alongside the increased levels of fraud observed during the pandemic period. Organisations, however, should not take their eye off this ever-changing context.

“Some types of fraud have decreased, including bank and credit account fraud which was down by 14%. However, a cause for concern is the persistent rise in advance fee fraud, which has experienced 549% growth when comparing the year ending March 2020 to the year ending March 2023. This type of fraud includes scams where victims transfer funds to fraudsters, with a recent spate of these linked to postal deliveries – preying on the increase in online shopping and potentially also the increasing return to office-based work.

"This links with what we’ve found in our recent Consumer Pulse study, which indicates that phishing and social engineering fraud continue to plague consumers, while the latest Fraudscape report from Cifas finds an 180% increase in the number of companies targeted for identity fraud.

“As businesses navigate this ever-shifting landscape, safeguarding their customers must remain a top priority. Having recently hosted a series of FinCrime roundtables with our clients, debates have centred on the balance organisations face in terms of education – from making customers aware of scams and third-party fraud, to helping them recognise that a level of friction in the customer experience can help protect individuals. Therefore, organisations need to remain vigilant in fortifying against emerging threats, ensuring the consumer remains at the forefront of their fraud prevention and identification strategies.”