UK identity theft hot spots revealed

A new survey by Experian has revealed that the top location in the UK for identity theft outside certain areas of London is Altrincham. The town in Cheshire has recorded 13 attempts at fraud for every 10000 adults and residents are being targeted at more than 3 times over the national average.

This is in comparison with the 11 attempts per 10000 in London overall, although some areas have rates which are significantly higher. These are inner city boroughs with East Ham having the unenviable reputation of being the highest in the UK, with 27 attempts at identity theft per 10000 adults.

Residents in Romford and Bexleyheath were also targeted at around five times the national average. Additional hotspots are to be found in the London commuter towns of Hatfield, Dartford and Camberley although the previous rise in fraud in Thames Valley and the Home Counties has slowed overall in 2012.

Experian’s Mosaic geo-demographic profiling analysis reveals that victims of identity theft are highest among the inner-city ‘Terraced Melting Pot’ group, typically those living in mixed urban neighbourhoods with low to middle incomes.

Research also reveals that identity fraud victims are being targeted from more affluent towns in the vicinity of the UK’s major cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and London.

These people fall into the ‘New Homemakers’ Mosaic group, and comprise younger couples living in new starter homes on the outskirts of major towns and cities, typically with average incomes and a high demand for credit.

Nick Mothershaw, UK&I director of identity & fraud at Experian, said: “It comes as no surprise that the Capital remains a target for third-party fraudsters – particularly around densely populated inner-city boroughs where identities are easier to steal.

“However, 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.

“Clearly identity theft is not just confined to inner-city areas but is a UK-wide problem and a symptom of tougher economic times, highlighting the need for people everywhere to be increasingly vigilant.”

Experian’s Fraud Index is based on data derived from National Hunter and Insurance Hunter, the UK’s leading fraud prevention systems, operated by Experian on behalf of members. These systems enable financial institutions to cross-match applications against over 100 million previous application records in order to spot commonalities and anomalies that are potentially indicative of fraud for further investigation.