TransUnion comment on ONS Crime in England and Wales stats

Commenting on today’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) crime in England and Wales statistical bulletin, Josh Gunnell, Head of Fraud & ID Pre-Sales, TransUnion (formerly Callcredit), said: “The volume of fraud offences in the past year has remained relatively stable meaning that the risk of becoming a victim of a fraud attack is still substantially high. The fact that there were 4,484,000* incidents of fraud and computer misuse from April 2017 to March 2018 speaks volumes, and we have to remember that these are only the figures of those which have been reported. The sheer amount of incidents implies that businesses are often still playing ‘catch-up’ when it comes to keeping both their customers and employees protected. In today’s increasingly regulated data climate, where the fines for failing are so high, businesses need to step up.

“The key to long-term success is through gaining and retaining consumer confidence so it is essential that organisations get up to speed with the prevention and detection techniques available. If businesses cannot show their customers that they are doing everything they can to keep data and identities safe, the cumulative damage could be greater than a fraud attack itself.

“To protect an organisation against fraud, a mix of human and technology-based solutions are required. Recent research we undertook found that nearly half (49%) of businesses already have some specific anti-fraud education as part of employee induction but there is still more work to be done and many recognise this. 43% of businesses are hoping to implement live exercises to test how staff respond, and 42% see employee drills having a role in combating fraud.

“When it comes to technology, our research found that nearly half of businesses (45%) are already using surveillance and 42% are using URL tracking as a protective measure against fraud attacks. However, they are also looking to take technology-based solutions one step further in the next two years – with 90% looking to implement improvements to ID verification, 45% deploying artificial intelligence and 37% utilising biometric screening techniques. This is increasingly important, considering over half of the fraud incidents in the past year were thought to be cyber-related, which is largely a ‘faceless’ channel.

“Society has been grappling with fraud since 300 BC, and sometimes it may feel like fighting a losing battle. But with the right combination of traditional techniques and emerging tools, businesses can protect themselves and win the war.”


*Figure is combination of Table 6 Crime Survey for England and Wales fraud – number of incidents for year ending March 2017 and year ending March 2018 with percentage change1 , 2 and Table 5: Crime Survey for England and Wales computer misuse – number of incidents for year ending March 2017 and year ending March 2018 with percentage change1 , 2.

More than half of Brits are putting their credit score at risk by not checking their eligibility

More than half of Brits have never checked their eligibility when applying for a credit card, loan or mortgage, new research from Experian reveals.
Each time someone makes an application, a “hard search” is recorded on their credit report which could impact their credit score and reduce their chances of getting accepted for the best deals in the future.
Eligibility helps consumers by leaving a “soft search” and showing them which products they are likely to get before they apply without affecting their credit score.
But Experian has found 55% of UK consumers have risked damaging their credit score by applying without first checking how likely they are to be accepted – despite it typically taking less than a minute to do so*.

Why Brits don’t check their eligibility
Nearly a quarter (23%) of those who admitted they haven’t said it was because they don’t know what the benefits are and another 20% incorrectly believe that checking will negatively impact their credit rating.
Other common reasons for not checking include not hearing of an eligibility tool (18%) and not wanting to provide personal information including bank account details (18%). Another 15% said there was no guarantee they’ll be accepted for credit even if they used eligibility.

Interestingly, it appears that older Brits are more reluctant to use eligibility. Three quarters (75%) of those 55 and over have never checked, compared to just 25% of 25 to 34 year olds.

Analysis of the latest data from Experian** also shows how important checking is. Some 15.8% of Brits shopping for personal loans on its comparison website in March had a “0%” eligibility rating for all products.
That means they have no chance of being accepted for a loan and risk damaging their credit score if they were to make an application.
For those that did check their eligibility, nearly half (45%)** had a 70% or better chance of being accepted for at least one credit card or loan and more than one in five (21%) had a 100% chance of being accepted.

Why Brits do check their eligibility

Whilst 55% of Brits don’t check their eligibility before applying for credit card or loan, 45% of Brits do.

The most popular reason why people checked their eligibility (47%) was because they wanted to make sure they weren’t negatively impacting their credit rating by applying for cards and loans they had no chance of being accepted for.

Other popular reasons included:

· To make sure I was only applying for deals I would be accepted for (40%)
· To save time by not applying for cards and loans I had no chance of being accepted for (37%)
· Because checking eligibility is easy to do (33%)
· To make sure I was getting the best rates available to me (30%)

And there are signs that Brits who might not have the best credit history are taking steps to take control of their finances.
A quarter (25%) of all credit card searches on Experian’s comparison services are for credit builder cards, which help people boost their credit scores and gain access to better financial products and rates in the future.

James Jones, Head of Consumer Affairs at Experian, comments: “Using an eligibility-checking service can make a real difference when it comes to getting the best deal and financial products.
“It’s fantastic that many Brits are checking before applying for credit, and not putting their credit score at risk, but there’s still a majority who are missing out.
“More than 1 in 5 customers checking had 100% for eligibility, which means they don’t have to worry about which products they can get, and instead focus on finding the right credit card or loan for their needs.
“At Experian we’re keen to debunk the myths and misconceptions around eligibility to educate and empower people to take control of their finances.”

Women and seaside towns again see most personal insolvencies – R3 comments on 2017 statistics

A higher percentage of women than men in England and Wales entered insolvency in 2017, continuing the trend of recent years, says insolvency trade body R3, commenting on the annual personal insolvency statistics released this morning by the Insolvency Service.

Looking at the geographical spread in the statistics, the North East and coastal towns such as Plymouth and Scarborough typically had the highest concentrations of personal insolvencies, also following the pattern established in recent years. Stoke-on-Trent is the local authority with the highest rates of personal insolvencies.

The 2017 statistics show that 53.9% of insolvencies involved a woman, up from 30% in 2000 and 53.4% in 2016.

· There were 22.6 insolvencies per 10,000 women in 2017 compared to 20.2 insolvencies per 10,000 men. There were 21.4 insolvencies per 10,000 for all adults.
· Women were involved in 65.4% of Debt Relief Orders, 53% of Individual Voluntary Arrangements, and 38.6% of bankruptcies.

Mark Sands, chair of the Personal Insolvency Committee at R3, comments: “The statistics for 2017 carry on the pattern which we have seen over the last few years, of women being persistently more likely to enter an insolvency procedure than men, with the gap widening to become even greater than in 2016.

“Many factors feed into this gender disparity. For example, women are much more likely than men to work part-time, and in sectors and roles with lower pay; women are often paid less than men for performing comparable work, as the gender pay gap shows; they are more likely to be single parents, which has a high correlation with greater poverty levels; and previous Insolvency Service statistics showed women were more likely than men to enter bankruptcy as a result of relationship breakdown.

“A number of factors have increased women’s insolvency rates over the last few years, not least the introduction of Debt Relief Orders [DROs] in 2009 and their subsequent expansion a couple of years ago. DROs are designed to help people with low incomes, debts, and assets, and have been predominantly used by women. DROs have helped those who might not have been able to access an insolvency procedure otherwise.

“Overall, unemployment levels stayed relatively low across 2017, but in the context of zero hours contracts and the gig economy, just having a job can be less of a bulwark against insecurity and insolvency than it used to be.

“Women have a lower participation rate in the economy, with around 26% counted as economically inactive in 2017 compared with around 17% for men. People on fixed incomes, be they pensioners or benefits claimants, are more vulnerable to rises in inflation, as any increases in their incomes will lag behind real-world conditions; price rises across last year will have increased the pressures on household budgets.

“As R3 has said before, the stereotype that women become insolvent more than men due to profligacy just does not hold up when compared with the evidence. The form of insolvency which is most closely linked to consumer spending, an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), is relatively equally used by men and women.
“Women’s relatively weaker financial position is underlined by the gender split in DROs, which are used when the debt in question is small, and the indebted individual has assets under £1,000. Two thirds (65.4%) of DROs were taken out by women, compared with 34.6% by men.

“Bankruptcy, meanwhile, is the one form of personal insolvency procedure which is more commonly used by men than women (61.4% of bankruptcies are taken out by men and 38.6% by women in the most recent statistics), and is often associated with business failure and higher debts.”
The number of DROs taken out in 2017 fell by around 5% compared with 2016, while the number of bankruptcies was essentially flat, rising by only 0.4% year on year. IVAs jumped by 20% year on year, and overall, individual insolvency numbers rose by 9% in 2017 compared with 2016.

Mark comments: “As with the gender split, the geographical distribution of individual insolvencies also follows the patterns of recent years. The places which have the highest rate of personal insolvency tend to be seaside towns, in towns affected by the decline of a particular industry, and in the North East – where there is often a combination of both the other two factors. Although it’s not in the North East, Stoke, an area where industry has declined, tops the list of local authority personal insolvency rates.

“The problems facing seaside towns are well-known, and six of the 10 places with the highest rate of personal insolvency are by the sea. Seasonal work dries up over the winter, and when it is available, wages tend to be low. In more heartening news, however, the Government launched a £40 million fund in February to encourage investment and to boost jobs in coastal communities. The vibrant economies of seaside cities like Brighton show that coastal settlements can become prosperous, given the right conditions.

“Areas where industry has receded face significant challenges. High levels of individual insolvencies are often accompanied by other issues, like poorer health and education outcomes. We’re still seeing the impact of industrial decline, decades later. Tackling economic malaise will require significant investment in building skills, resilience, business networks, and better infrastructure. Interestingly, London is the only place where bankruptcies – a procedure associated with higher levels of debts and assets – are more common with DROs – which are associated with low assets and low, but unaffordable debts.

“Regional initiatives, such as the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine, are one way to bring public and private sectors together to boost investment and to build links, and more of a focus on such projects would be welcome news for people and businesses in post-industrial areas. Projects must also take care to look outside cities and larger towns to places where a spiral of decline has set in – the statistics show that places where levels of personal insolvency are high often exist side by side with much more prosperous areas.

SIA signs financing contract to acquire First Data business

SIA, a European hi-tech firm leader in the payment services and infrastructures sector, has today signed a financing contract to support the acquisition of First Data’s business in a number of countries in Central and Southeastern Europe.

UniCredit, one of the main reference banks and sponsor of SIA Group, acted as Sole Underwriter, guaranteeing the total underwriting of the amount, Global Coordinator, Initial Bookrunner, Initial Mandated Lead Arranger and Facility Agent.

In addition, UniCredit managed, as Active Bookrunner, the entire process of syndication, which led to significant participation by the following major banks as Mandated Lead Arranger and Bookrunner: Banca IMI, Banco BPM, BNP Paribas, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, and UBI Banca.

Emerging Asia poised for continued strong growth, while contributing to global expansion of e-commerce

Economic growth in Emerging Asia, the ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China and India, is expected to remain stable in the near term. Average real gross domestic product (GDP) in the region is expected to grow by 6.6% in 2018 and 6.5% in 2019, because of generally robust consumption and investment according to projections in the OECD Development Centre’s Update to the Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India 2018. The ten ASEAN economies are expected to see average growth of 5.3% in both 2018 and 2019, with the highest rates in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar (the CLM countries), Viet Nam and the Philippines.

Overall, the external positions of Emerging Asian economies remain stable; current account balances have improved in most economies in the region and foreign direct investment data flows are strong. Policy rates in the region have been increased, mainly in response to increases in inflationary pressure and weakness in some local currencies, though monetary authorities have also used reserve requirements to maintain liquidity. Overall, the fiscal positions of Emerging Asian economies are relatively sound. The fiscal policy direction, however, is mixed.

According to the Update, risks include the effects of rising interest rates in advanced economies, uncertainty about the implementation of planned infrastructure projects and the consequences of rising protectionist sentiments internationally on regional integration.

“Emerging Asia stands to show continued strong growth in the near term if domestic and external risks are properly managed,” said Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary-General on Development, while launching the Update at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

A special chapter of the Update addresses the challenges and opportunities facing Emerging Asia in developing cross-border e-commerce. The region is already a major player in e-commerce, and should continue to contribute to the sector’s global growth in the future. The use of information and communications technology (ICT), ICT infrastructure, transportation and logistics, payment systems, and legal and regulatory frameworks will all affect such future growth. To benefit from fair and efficient cross-border e-commerce, governments in the region will need to improve connectivity, develop skills and human capital, implement new policies to address digital security and consumer protection, and foster regional and international co-operation.

Pro-Remain ParcelHero Says White Paper ‘Surprisingly Good News for British Exporters’

The strongly pro-Remain export parcels company ParcelHero say today’s Brexit Government White Paper has much to recommend it for UK exporters and importers to the EU – though it could endanger many e-commerce service businesses.

The news that the Government’s new Brexit White Paper explicitly supports a common rule book for trade in goods with the European Union has been welcomed by the European export specialist ParcelHero.

ParcelHero said there was a surprising amount to welcome in the detail of today’s White Paper, for businesses and individuals shipping regularly to EU countries. Says ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT: ‘The phased introduction of a new Facilitated Customs Arrangement, that would remove the need for customs checks and controls between the UK and the EU, as if they were a combined customs territory, is a hugely sensible and pragmatic approach.’

David continues: ‘We’ve not tried to hide our fears over the imposition of new tariffs and red tape at EU borders. The White Paper’s aim of establishing a new free trade area, maintaining a common rulebook for goods, covering only those rules necessary to provide for frictionless trade at the border, seems sound common sense.’

Says David: ‘We agree that a free trade area for goods would avoid friction at EU borders and ensure both sides meet their commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland. The Government says the plans “will protect the uniquely integrated supply chains and ‘just-in-time’ processes that have developed across the UK and the EU over the last 40 years”; and if this can really be achieved, it will be an excellent result.’

However, ParcelHero does have significant reservations about the loss of free access between the EU and UK to online services. Says David ‘Many of our customers engage in regular e-commerce with EU businesses and citizens. The new paper specifically says there will be new arrangements on digital trade, including e-commerce, recognising that the UK and the EU will not have current levels of access to each other’s markets. This could be a major loss of access to lucrative markets for some of Britain’s world leading e-commerce businesses.’

However, ParcelHero concluded by saying: ‘All along we have recognised the pro-Brexit argument for wider trade agreements beyond the EU and agree the plans will enable the UK to control its own tariffs for trade with the rest of the world, becoming operational in stages as both sides complete the necessary preparations.’

Callcredit becomes TransUnion as brand integration begins

Callcredit, the UK’s second largest credit referencing agency, has today announced the change of its brand name to TransUnion, after being acquired by the leading global risk and information solutions provider in a £1 billion deal last month (19 June).

As a phased integration process begins, UK businesses and consumers will start to become familiar with TransUnion, which already has a presence in over 30 countries worldwide. The company will be referred to as ‘TransUnion, formerly Callcredit’ during the initial stage, as reflected in the logo, moving to simply TransUnion later this year.

Integrating into one brand is part of the strategy to maximise the combined international presence of TransUnion and Callcredit, and to drive enhanced value to businesses and consumers in the UK. It will also make it easier for companies when it comes to doing business, both domestically and internationally, by providing access to greater expertise across global markets.

David Neenan, international president at TransUnion commented: “We’re delighted to introduce the TransUnion brand to the UK today. Migrating the Callcredit business name to TransUnion will allow us to fully leverage the benefits that the integration brings and enable us to deliver even more to our customers in the UK and across the global markets that TransUnion serves.

“Together we’re a great match; Callcredit’s values and solutions are completely aligned to TransUnion’s mission of using information for good, so bringing the brands together marks the next milestone on our integration journey. However, during this time of change, our priority remains on continuing to deliver the excellent level of service and insight which Callcredit’s customers have grown to expect.”

UK financial services firms overconfident about cybersecurity defences

Despite the growth in data breaches, senior executives at UK firms think their cybersecurity protection is top-notch, according to a new survey conducted by research and consultancy firm Ovum for Silicon Valley analytics firm FICO. Three out of four executives from UK firms said their firm was better prepared than their competitors, and 43 percent said their firm was a top performer. While this overconfidence was seen across the eight regions surveyed, Canada was the only country where more respondents (44 percent) said they were a top performer for cybersecurity protection.

Among British industries, financial services firms were the most confident of all —55 percent said their firm was a top performer, and 41 percent said their firm was above average. Telecommunications providers were second, with 42 percent calling their firm a top performer. The least confident — or most realistic — respondents were in retail and ecommerce, where 38 percent said their firm is a top performer, and just 19 percent said they were above average.

Despite this confidence, only 36 percent of organisations are carrying out more than a point-in-time assessment of what their cybersecurity risk is.

“The grave risk posed to our privacy and security demands that firms take an honest view of their protection,” said Steve Hadaway, FICO general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “These numbers suggest that many firms just don’t understand how they compare to their competitors, and that could lead to a lack of investment. When we review firms’ cybersecurity risk with our FICO Enterprise Security Score, I can tell you that most firms are not above average.”

“IT leaders have greater funding than ever to protect organisations from the continuously evolving threat landscape and meet complex compliance demands,” said Maxine Holt, research director at Ovum. “These same IT leaders are undoubtedly keen to believe that the money being spent provides their organisation with a better security posture than any other – but the rapid pace of investment, often in point solutions, rarely takes an organisation-wide view of security.”

Ovum conducted the survey for FICO through telephone interviews with 500 senior executives, mostly from the IT function, in businesses from the UK, the US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, India, Finland, Norway, Sweden and South Africa. Respondents represented firms in financial services, telecommunications, retail and ecommerce, and power and utilities.

Credit Management Services Company Lowell Selects Xactium to Manage Risks

Leading European Credit Management Services Company Lowell, has selected Xactium as its preferred Risk Management System to implement within the UK.

Lowell is a European leader specialising in debt purchase, contingent collections and business services, with offices in the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Estonia. Lowell was originally founded on the idea that there was an opportunity to provide collections services in a better way.

Gary Kendall, Head of Risk, at Lowell UK, said, “Xactium provides us with a risk platform which complements our risk management framework. Providing insight and assurance over the risks we manage as a rapidly growing business.”

Andy Evans, Xactium Managing Director adds: “It’s great to be adding Lowell to our growing list of Credit and Debt management customers. Lowell have a forward thinking approach to risk management, and we are pleased to be delivering them our highly flexible, modern cloud based risk management solution”.

Fraud leaders bet on education and technology to fight the growing fraud threat, new research finds

Nearly two thirds (63%) of businesses believe that a malicious data breach by an employee is a significant threat (up from 41% in 2017), according to Callcredit’s 2018 annual fraud report which is released today.

The study, entitled Building a Fraud Fortress, examines how businesses can protect themselves, their customers and their staff, and finds that fraud leaders are betting on a mix of employee and customer education, alongside advanced technology solutions, to counter the growing threat.

An insider attack is just one of the many possible avenues. There’s also the risk of employees being exploited and customers being scammed, as well as cyber attacks and data breaches. The threats experienced most frequently, according to the report, are against authentication systems (45%), web-based services (43%), and phishing (42%) – demonstrating the breadth of technological and human-based methods that fraudsters are adopting.

The question for businesses is how to fight back and Callcredit’s research illustrated the importance of education, as well as the technology-based solutions which 57% regard as being key to fraud protection.

Nearly half (49%) are already including some specific anti-fraud education as part of all employees’ induction and many have plans to develop training programmes further. 43% of managers aspire to implement live exercises to test how staff respond, and 42% see employee drills having a role in combating fraud.

When it comes to technology, 45% of those surveyed are currently using surveillance and 42% are using URL tracking as preventative measures, whilst nearly half (45%) are looking to deploy artificial intelligence as a preventative tool in the next two years.

John Cannon, Managing Director, Fraud and ID, Callcredit said: “Education and training undoubtedly play an essential role when it comes to preventing fraud so it’s encouraging to see from the research that this is already firmly embedded with nearly half of UK businesses. However, it’s important to adapt and evolve training to keep up with the fraudsters – it can’t simply be a tick-box approach. Live exercises and employee drills are a good idea as it’s important to simulate realistic situations.

“But education is only one piece of the puzzle and businesses should be thinking about the other tools available that can be used to help better protect themselves against fraud. It was interesting to note some of the technologies fraud leaders are looking to use in the next year – ID verification (90%), machine learning (37%) and biometric screening techniques (37%) – as this reaffirms the importance of the balance between more traditional techniques and emerging tools. Whilst businesses need to keep up with the latest developments, these should be enhancing existing verification techniques.”