The trend of rising fraud levels will continue through the COVID-19 pandemic, but fast-tracked digital solutions may eventually bear fruit, according to Equifax UK. 

Following the release of the Cifas Fraudscape annual report, Keith McGill, head of fraud and ID at Equifax UK, said: “The results of the Cifas report show the changing face of fraud and identity theft across the UK.

“With a 13% rise in reports to the National Fraud Database from 2018, it’s clear that even before the pandemic struck there were a number of challenges for individuals and businesses to stay a step ahead of fraudsters.

AMI warns brokers against dubious lead generation firms

“With a doubling of online retail facility takeovers in 2019 from the previous year, we can expect this figure to grow once again in 2020 as companies have fast-tracked digital and online solutions to maintain customers and revenues during lockdown.

“In cases where this move to technology is unfamiliar and rushed, fraudsters will undoubtedly find opportunities to take advantage.

“According to the research, 87% of identity theft came via online channels in 2019, reinforcing the importance now more than ever for companies to ensure they have robust and secure controls in place for processes such as customer identification and onboarding.

“In this time of heightened online activity and risk, it’s also crucial for individuals to take greater care with their online security and personal details.”

McGill added that the accelerating digitalisation in the face of the pandemic may hold the solution.

He said: “Despite the trends outlined in the report, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“The pandemic has forced businesses to accelerate their online presence and digital transformation.

“Many are using this as an opportunity to embrace the latest technologies, and for those without legacy systems they are able to introduce cutting-edge services and security from the outset.

“Consumer confidence, coupled with more effective digital identification and security measures, will ultimately benefit the reputation and longer-term strength of companies committed to making the change.

“For those who are slow to react, COVID-19 is likely to speed up their decline as the world moves to a digital future.”