Key Fraud Trends: How to Stay Safe in the Changing Fraudscape

our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 8/9/2018 9:06 AM
Sharing and collecting data is part of our everyday lives. Whether our information is shared over social media, e-commerce sites, banks, or elsewhere, this can open up risks. 

2017 saw the highest number of identity fraud cases ever, an increase in young people ‘money muling’ and higher bank account takeovers for over-60s. Whilst overall fraud incidences fell 6%, these cases highlight just some of the changing trends as fraud issues stem more from misuse than ever before.

Dixons Carphone, Facebook and Ticketmaster are just three cases you may recognise from a string of high profile data breaches this year. Technological advances, more accessible and available data, coupled with an increased sophistication of fraud schemes, makes it more likely that data breaches and fraud attacks will become regular news items. But how is the fraud landscape changing and can technological advances be advantageous in detecting and reducing fraud?

Identity fraud increasing for under 21s


In June 2018, Dixons Carphone found an attack enabled unauthorised access to personal data from 1.2 million customers. It’s now been uncovered that the number is much higher, closer to ten times initial estimates. Whilst no financial information was directly accessed, personal data such as names, addresses and emails enable fraudsters to fake an identity. Younger fake identities are used more for product and asset purchases which typically require less stringent checks, such as mobile phone contracts and short-term loans. 

In 2017, Cifas, a non-profit organisation working to reduce and prevent fraud and financial crime, reported the highest number of identity fraud cases ever. Under 21s are most at risk seeing a 30% increase as they engage more with online retail accounts. Whereas previously identity theft would manifest itself in fraudulent card and bank account activity, it’s now being used to make false insurance claims and asset conversion calling for stronger detection in these industries. 

Young People Used as Money Mules


This age group aren’t only being targeted for identity theft; there’s a 27% uplift in young people acting as money mules. ‘Money muling’ is a serious offence that carries a 14-year prison sentence in the UK. In most cases, younger people are recruited with the lure of large cash payments to facilitate movement of funds through their account, taking a cut as they go. 

In a world where young lives are glamourised and luxurious goods are displayed over social media, this cut can be particularly appealing. Whether aware, believing the reward outweighs the risk, or unaware a money laundering crime is being committed, deeper fraud controls are needed across social media as much as bank accounts. This raises the question as to whether banks should be linking social media to customer details to stop money laundering early on?

Increased bank account takeover for over 60s


Cifas also reported an increase in account takeovers for over 60s for the same period. Seen by fraudsters as a less tech-savvy and therefore more susceptible demographic, over 60s are increasingly being targeted with online and social engineering scams. The same features which can make some over 60s a target for these scams, can also mean that account takeovers are not immediately noticed and reported, posing yet another difficulty for fraud monitoring and prevention. Vigilance and proactiveness is key. Here are three tips to get you started:

  1. Never give personal or security information to someone who contacts you out of the blue, either online, on the phone, or face to face. Always phone and check with the company first. If you make the call then you know you can trust the person on the other end.

  2. Check with your bank to see if they offer an elder fraud initiative such as a monitoring service that scans for suspicious activity and alerts customers and their families or educates seniors on types of scams and how to avoid them.

  3. When in doubt about something, delay and seek a second opinion.

Check with your local library, government offices, or non-profit organisation for more top tips to stay safe from scams and social engineering.  

Industry approach


Traditionally, financial services organisations have been at the forefront of developing fraud controls; they are often the ones most impacted by the financial risk (the monetary cost of the attacks on their business) and regulatory risk (ensuring their business is adhering to regulations and controls).

However, with modern day trends and the changing nature of fraud, all industries need to be focused on reputational risks and prevention. Single big events like Facebook and Dixon Carphone’s data breaches can have a far-reaching impact. 

But, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Monzo, an online bank, which bills itself as the future of banking has stepped up the game when it comes to their customer’s security. Upon reports of fraudulent activity on customer cards, they took immediate action to correct the problem. Then they took things a step further, introducing digital analytics to help identify trends and patterns. As patterns emerged, Monzo then notified both the breached business and the authorities.

Perhaps a cross-industry collaborative approach is needed as, after all, fraudsters are collaborating. By doing so, businesses will become more proactive, rather than reactive, and can put measures in place to stop potential fraud.

If you’ve got a nose for numbers and want to help secure the reputation of businesses the world over, we may have a role for you

To learn more, call our UK team at +44 020 8408 6070 or email us at ukinfo@harnham.com

Related blog & news

With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.

Visit our Blogs & News portal or check out the related posts below.

Opportunity Knocks: Media Trading Desks Move In-House

It’s anticipated that by 2022, 80% of the advertising process will be automated. With the remainder of the process made up of elements that rely on human drivers, such as brand value and storytelling, we will have reached peak automation. Programmatic is playing a huge role in this transition, dominating the majority of mobile display and TV advertising. With the promise of more targeted ads, more and more marketers are pointing their budgets in this direction. The consequences of this, however, could have a lasting impact. Larger agencies are already introducing their own Programmatic teams, whilst Adobe believe that 62% brands will bring their media buying in-house by 2022, opening the door for an array of new opportunities. Moving Home There are several reasons that brands are choosing to bring their media buying in-house. First and foremost, with more and more budget directed towards Programmatic, the ability to automate their buying has a significant appeal. With the technology now available to do so, keeping this in-house has a number of benefits: Control: Brands can have greater control over how they spend their budget, giving them more autonomy over every stage of the process. Transparency: By owning their media buying, brands can gauge a better understanding of their ROI. Engagement: Customers continuously move from channel to channel. Keeping buying in-house helps brands keep up. Leverage: Brands can leverage their first-party data to create and execute in-house strategies. The last of these is particularly important. Following the introduction of GDPR, brands are under a significant amount of scrutiny regarding how they use customer data. By keeping this in-house, brands can have more control over how their data is both stored and used, without sharing it with third parties. Making the Investment Naturally, this change to the advertising landscape is already having implications across the wider industry. Sir Martin Sorrell, formerly of WPP, believes that brands moving in-house will be a “short lived trend” brought on by a reaction to “serious economic conditions”. However, this may not necessarily be the case. In addition to the benefits listed above, the significant investment required to move Programmatic in-house means that brands are likely to look to this as a longer-term solution.This not only involves investment in a DMP and the right technology but, more crucially, in building the right team. Without this team, any in-house venture is unlikely to succeed, regardless of technological investment. On Your Doorstep The good news is that this provides several new opportunities for Digital Analytics professionals. With 39% of Marketing Executives believing that a skills shortage is responsible for holding back Programmatic growth, there is a huge demand for the right talent, both permanent and contract. And, with this skills shortage, there is opportunity for Web and Marketing Analysts to expand their skillsets and move into the position of Media or Audience Analyst. By upskilling in media trading platforms such as AppNexus and DoubleClick, digital analysts can further enhance their expertise. When combined with the ability to visualise using Python or R they find themselves well positioned for some of the most in-demand roles around. If you’re looking for the opportunity to play an instrumental role in growing an in-house team, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest jobs, or get in touch by calling us on +44 20 8408 6070 or emailing info@harnham.com. This article was originally written for London MeasureCamp in September 2018. 

From Idea to Impact: How Charities Use Data

It’s that time of year again. As the festive season draws near and we pull together wish lists, many of us also begin to think about how we can give back. Given that the UK spent over £7 billion this Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, it’s not surprising that the idea of Giving Tuesday is becoming more and more popular.  But with 160,000 registered charities in the UK alone, institutions are turning to data to find new ways to stand out and make a greater impact.  Far from just running quarterly reports, charities are now utilising the insights they gain from data to inform their strategies, improve their services and plan for the future.  IDEAS Given that not every charity is lucky enough to go viral with an Ice Bucket Challenge style video, there is a need to find other ways to stand out in such a crowded market. As such, many are looking to the data they have collected to help create a strategy. Macmillan Cancer Support, one the UK’s biggest charities, wanted to see more success from one of their main fundraisers, ‘The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’. The event, which sees volunteers hold coffee and cake-fuelled gatherings across the country was revolutionised by data. By engaging with their database and researching what motivated fundraisers, they refocused their marketing around how the occasion could create an opportunity for people to meet up and chat, such as swapping ‘send for your free fundraising pack’ for ‘order your free coffee morning kit’. Whilst these amends may seem superficial, they had a major impact increasing funds raised from £15m to £20m.  Some brands have taken this idea even further, using Data & Analytics tools to engage with potential donors. Homelessness charity Cyrenians’ data told them that there were a number of misconceptions about rough sleepers, including 15% of people believing that they were homeless by choice. To counter this they created an AI chatbot, named Alex, that allowed users to ask questions they may not have been comfortable asking a real person.  Another charity using data tools to counter common misconceptions is Dyslexia Association. Their Moment of Dyslexia campaign saw them utilise facial recognition technology; the longer a person looked at their digital poster, the more jumbled up the words and letters became. By harnessing both insights and the technology made possible by data, they were able to offer an insight into what dyslexia is like for people who previously didn’t understand.  INDIVIDUALS A big issue facing a number of charities is trust. Following a series of recent scandals, the public are more sceptical than ever of how charities are run, and their use of data is no exception. This ‘trust deficit’ has resulted in vast amount of potential donors staying away, with recent research highlighting that only 11% of people are willing to share their data with a charity, even if it means a better service.  Whilst charities with effective Data Governance are able to use their vast amount of data to enhance those business, those who mismanage it are likely to suffer. Following a cyber-attack that exposed the data of over 400,000 donors, the British and Foreign Bible Society were fined £100,000. As hackers were able to enter the network by exploiting a weak password, this serves as a timely reminder that our data needs not only to be clean, but secure.  Financial implications aside, improper data usage can also do irreversible damage to a charity’s reputation. St Mungo’s has faced criticism for passing information about migrant homeless people to the Home Office, putting them at risk of deportation. Whilst they were cleared of any wrongdoing by the ICO, this controversial use of data has had a negative impact on the charity’s image. With a decline in the number of people donating to charity overall, anything that can put people off further is bad news.  IMPACT Whilst there is more demand than ever for charities to share their impact data, there is also more opportunity. With Lord Gus O’Donnell urging charities to make data an ‘organisation-wide priority’, many are going beyond publishing annual reports and fully embracing a culture shift. Youth charity Keyfund have been able to justify how the spend their funds based on their impact data. Having heard concerns from fundraisers regarding whether their leisure projects were effective they looked at the data they had gathered from the 6,000 young people they were helping. What they found was that not only were their leisure projects effective, they had an even more positive impact than their alternatives, particularly for those from the most deprived area. This allowed them to continue to support these programs and even increase funding where necessary. Going one step further are Street League, a charity that use sports programmes to tackle youth unemployment. Rather than share their impact data in quarterly, or even annual, reports they moved to real-time reporting. Interested parties can visit an ‘Online Impact Dashboard’ and see up-to-the-minute data about how the charity’s work is impacting the lives of the people it is trying to help. This not only allows for the most relevant data to be used strategically, but also supports the business holistically, gaining donor both attention and trust. To stand out in the charity sector institutions need to take advantage of data. Not only can this be used to generate campaigns and streamline services but, when used securely and transparently, it can help rebuild trust and offer a competitive edge.  If you want to make the world a better place by harnessing and analysing data, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to see how we can help you.