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Fraud of the deceased on the rise

Fraud of the deceased on the rise

Research from deceased fraud prevention service, HALO, reveals that 16 per cent of deceased individuals have had their identities stolen by fraudsters looking to secure products and services in their name.

This equates to over 80,000 individual instances, yet it is believed this figure could be much higher due to unreported and as yet undiscovered cases.

The recession is proving a key stimulant to fraudulent activity. Identity fraud (against both living and deceased people), for example, has risen by 40 per cent in Q1 2009 in comparison to the same period in 2008 and there has been a surge in both facility takeover fraud and false insurance claims (CIFAS).

In terms of deceased identify fraud; fraudsters obtain information on recent deaths from obituary columns, media articles and other easily accessible public data sources. Through deception they obtain the direct mail of individuals that have died and use it to apply for products and services in the name of the deceased. These commonly include credit cards, loans, pensions, mortgages, catalogue items and subscription services such as digital TV.

BDO Stoy Hayward figures reveal that self administered pension funds are losing over £200 million annually as money continues to be claimed on behalf of deceased pensioners. At any one time, pension funds will be making payments to around 70,000 dead pensioners. Moreover, Home Office figures show that fraudulent passport applications in the names of deceased people are also rising.

Product Director, Halo, Chris Worsley, said, “Increased vigilance from UK businesses and organisations is vital, not only in terms of complying with policies such as FSA’s Money Laundering regulations, but also of reducing the strain on the economy, protecting your own business and finally reducing the stress of the victims -  bereaved individuals that will eventually be contacted by debt collectors.”

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