Fraudsters increasingly target over 60s and look to countryside for new victims

Fraud against older people soared last year as criminals looked beyond the UK’s cities and towns for new victims, according to Experian.

City dwellers whose mail is left in communal areas or in mailboxes outside of their property have long been the main target for fraudsters, as they need to intercept the credit or debit card as it is delivered to the victim.

However, well off homeowners living in the countryside, who are often retired or making lengthy commutes, endured a 29.5% rise in fraud last year. There was also a 7.5% increase in fraud against those living in family homes in the suburbs, whose children are older or have recently moved out.

In addition, the over 60s experienced an 11.5% rise in fraud in 2018, greater than any other age group, the latest Hunter Fraud statistics show. Those aged from 50-54 (up 4.7%) and 55-59 (up 6%) were the only other age groups to record an increase in third party fraud during this time.

To help combat these worrying trends, Experian is developing machine learning technology to better identify emerging trends and further improve the accuracy of applications which are flagged to lenders’ fraud teams for closer inspection.

Nick Mothershaw, Director of Identity and Fraud Solutions at Experian UK&I, said: “Our statistics show that although we are uncovering a new fraud every 15 seconds, fraudsters continue to look for new ways to scam people and businesses. Criminals are casting their net wider to the countryside, as well as targeting their traditional victims. People need to be ever more vigilant – ensuring they don’t write down or share passwords or account details. They should check their credit file regularly for signs a fraudster is using their identity.

“Machine learning has been shown to be a vital tool in identifying fraud. Putting this advanced analytical framework in place means organisations can provide genuine customers, applying or buying new products, a better experience without the friction of being referred, giving fraud teams the time to focus on bogus applications.”

Fraud by product

  • Third party fraud in credit card applications increased by 31% in 2018 compared to the previous year and is now twice as high as it was five years ago.
  • Although there was a 19% reduction in current account fraud last year, it is four times higher than the levels recorded in 2014, as fraudsters use it as a ‘front door’ to further applications in a victim’s name.
  • Loan application fraud fell by 7% year-on-year.