Experian, the global information services company, has revealed rapid growth in the number of reported fraud cases and identified senior level employees within commercial organisations as at significant risk of being targeted.
The company announced that the number of identity fraud victims contacting the firm grew by 66 per cent during 2007, with more than 6,000 reported cases, compared with just over 3,500 in 2006.
The report comes at the same time that the West Midlands Business Council’s Regional Business Crime Forum chairman, Mike Cherry, has alerted firms in the region to a new advertising scam.
The scam involves invoices delivered to businesses from fake publishing companies, requesting money in exchange for exposure in magazines. Criminals may also make calls to firms pretending to sell advertising space in a publication for a charity or an emergency service.
Mr Cherry gives the following advice: “In respect of callers asking for advertising, don’t be afraid to question the person about the charity or emergency service they claim they are supporting and the print run and the alleged distribution of the supposed publication.
“Then, before placing an advert, ask for a written order form plus copy of a letter of authority from the organisation that will benefit. Then say you will only agree to this after signing and returning the order as written confirmation of your agreement.
“Yet again the criminals are thinking of new ways of fleecing us. Scams affect all businesses and particularly small businesses.”
Trading Standards advises businesses to write back to any a suspect letter asking for money and request evidence that a contract was entered into, reminding them that the courts can ultimately decide whether a contract really was agreed to.
Experian’s analysis, which used detailed data from more than 10,000 identity fraud cases, shows that directors of companies with more than 50 employees are almost five-and-a-half times more likely to become a victim of identity fraud than the average UK resident, with directors of small companies almost two-and-a-half times more likely.
In general, the typical identity fraud victim will be highest income earners, aged between 26 and 45, and working in a professional occupation and will also own their own home.
Those earning more than £50,000 a year are almost three times more likely than average to fall foul of identity fraud. This backed up by regional data that shows Harborne and Solihull, both areas with greater numbers of higher earners, came top of the list of fraud hotspots for Birmingham.
Helen Lord, director of fraud and compliance at Experian, commented: “Fraudsters have a clear motive to pursue company directors. The financial rewards and lifestyle that success in business brings, means that directors are prime targets for the professional identity fraudster and the rate of identity fraud growth is worrying.”