Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

Internet fraudsters 'are targeting women'

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The internet is many fraudsters' channel of choice

A growing number of women are victims of identity fraud as criminals use the internet to steal funds, a report says.

The typical victim is still a man aged in his 40s, but the report by UK fraud prevention service Cifas has found that fraudsters are spreading their net.

The number of fraud cases rose by 10% in 2009 compared with the previous year, including a 32% rise in ID fraud.

The majority of cases, when people's bank accounts were taken over, were perpetrated online.

"Fraudsters are increasingly using a less targeted approach, and are willing to try to use anyone's data that they are able to compromise," the report said.

This comes from phishing e-mails, software that tracks people's computer use, and the theft of swathes of personal data.

Types of fraud

The total number of fraud cases recorded by Cifas members increased to 235,452 in 2009, the report found.

It said there had been a rise in fraud cases that used an innocent victim's current address on loan applications or mail order.

Criminals either intercept mail that comes back from loan providers, or the crime is carried out by friends or family of the victim.

The report also highlighted cases of "piggybacking", when fraudsters get their mobile or car added to somebody else's account or insurance policy.

Some people feeling the economic pinch have doctored cheques to avoid payments on card accounts. Other cases of services that were gained legitimately but were being misused have risen by 28% year-on-year.

"An age-old comment is that fraud rises to the surface during times of recession," the report said.

However, the recession has also allowed lenders to flush out fraud cases, as tighter lending criteria has meant more loan applications have been turned down.

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