Fraud happens when somebody uses deception to obtain goods, services, money etc. It is a serious problem in the UK, and premiercallcentre.co.uk is here to help you prevent fraud for your call centre. The face of fraud changes as technology advances. It is our job to help you take steps prevention of fraud from occurring in the first place. When it does occur, premiercallcentre.co.uk intends to be sure that it's dealt with it effectively.
In the broadest sense, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and is also a civil law violation. Many hoaxes are fraudulent, although those not made for personal gain are not technically frauds. Defrauding people of money is presumably the most common type of fraud, but there have also been many fraudulent "discoveries" in art, archaeology, and science.
Types of fraudulent acts
Fraud can be committed through many methods, including mail, wire, phone, and the internet (computer crime and internet fraud). The difficulty of checking identity and legitimacy online, and the ease with which hackers can divert browsers to dishonest sites and steal credit card details, the international dimensions of the web and ease with which users can hide their location, all contribute to making internet fraud the fastest growing area of fraud.
Acts which may constitute criminal fraud include:
- Bait and switch
- Bankruptcy fraud, is a US federal crime that can lead to criminal prosecution under the charge of theft of the goods or services,
- Charlatanism (psychic and occult),
- Confidence tricks such as the 419 fraud, Spanish Prisoner, and the shell game
- Creation of false companies or "long firms"
- Embezzlement, taking money which one has been entrusted with on behalf of another party,
- False advertising
- False billing
- False insurance claims
- Forgery of documents or signatures,
- Health fraud, selling of products of spurious use, such as quack medicines,
- tax fraud, not filing revenues or illegally avoiding taxes (tax evasion), in some countries tax fraud is also prosecuted under false billing or tax forgery
- Social fraud, committing fraud to get social security benefits
- Identity theft
- Investment frauds, such as Ponzi schemes
- Marriage fraud to obtain immigration benefits
- Securities frauds such as pump and dump
- taking payment for goods sold online, by mail or phone, such as tickets, with no intention of delivering them.
Your identity is a valuable commodity - you need it to function in everyday life. You need evidence of who you are to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, finance, loans and mortgages, to obtain goods or services, or to claim benefits. But you may not be the only person using your own personal details. Your identity can be stolen and used in a variety of ways. Fraudsters can impersonate you and take out various forms of credit using your good name. They can even take over your existing bank accounts by pretending to be you. All the fraudster needs is a few of your details. A document bearing your name and/or your address makes it even easier. This phenomenon is commonly known as identity theft (or identity fraud) and is the fastest growing type of fraud in the UK.
Identity Theft - (also known as impersonation fraud) is the misappropriation of the identity (such as the name, date of birth, current address or previous addresses) of another person, without their knowledge or consent. These identity details are then used to obtain goods and services in that person's name.
Identity Fraud - is the use of a misappropriated identity in criminal activity, to obtain goods or services by deception. This usually involves the use of stolen or forged identity documents such as a passport or driving license.
Identity theft and Identity Fraud are definitely not victimless crimes. In 2007 alone, over 65,000 victims of identity theft were identified and protected. Identity theft can be a harrowing experience for the victim. It can be months before the fraudster's actions are discovered, and in some cases it can take just as long to sort out the mess left behind.
Don't panic! There are measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim, and if your identity is hijacked, there is help and advice available. There are a few simple precautions you can take to help prevent your identity from being used in this way:
- Protect your personal details and think before you give them away: Who precisely is asking for my details? What details are they asking for? And why do they need these details?
- Dispose of your documents securely. Any document containing any of your personal details is potentially useful to a fraudster.
It is fairly straightforward to find out if your identity has been hijacked, and if you do suspect you are a victim, advice is available. Contact the organization concerned straight away. Report the crime to the police and get a copy of your credit file/report from the credit reference agencies - Experian, Equifax and Call credit - to check the extent of the fraudster's activity.
Why is ID so important?
A person's identity (and their ability to prove it) is central to almost all commercial activity. Organizations need to verify an identity before opening an account or issuing goods or services. They need to ensure that:
- The person applying for credit is who they say they are and lives where they claim to live.
- The person's name and address and other details are correct.
In the UK, there is no single document used to prove identity. At the moment, to verify an identity organizations use various pieces of information, including personal details such as your name, date of birth, address, mother’s maiden name etc. This is in addition to a mosaic of documents and records, including passports, driving licenses, birth or marriage certificates, utility bills, bank statements, pay slips, educational qualifications, etc
Your personal details and the various documents and records make you the individual person you are. Your unique identity features - your fingerprints, DNA and physical appearance - can't easily be adopted by someone else, but your other identity details and documents can.
So if fraudsters get access to enough information about you, they may be able to impersonate you and steal your identity. They could either open a new account or obtain new credit cards or loans using your identity, or 'take over' your own existing accounts by impersonating you and changing the address of your account.
The procedures used by organizations to check the information supplied by customers helps detect and prevent most identity fraud. However, some fraudulent applications are accepted due to the sophisticated techniques used by the fraudsters.
What could be done with my stolen identity?
Fraudsters are financial criminals. They are unlikely to use their own identity for their criminal activity. They will either create a new false identity, or, more commonly, will attempt to pose as someone else - someone with a clean identity, a good financial history and a reputation of settling their accounts on time.
There is no typical profile of an identity fraudster - it could be a one-off small time crook working alone, or a large network of criminals using the proceeds to fund organized crime.
There are various reasons why a fraudster might want to steal an identity. Generally, it is to hide their real identity for financial benefit:
- To obtain various financial benefits; bank accounts, credit cards, loans and mortgages, goods or services which they have no intention of repaying.
- To claim benefits they are not entitled to or to avoid paying tax.
They may also need a new identity to:
- Hide a poor financial history and avoid paying existing debts.
- Continue various criminal activities without attracting Police attention.
- Drive despite being disqualified.
- Work with children.
- Remarry and commit bigamy.
As well as small-time crooks working alone, criminal networks commit identity fraud on a large scale by using multiple identities. It is estimated that this fraud is responsible for a criminal cash flow of around £10m per day. This money is then used by criminals to finance bigger scams.
A significant proportion of identity fraud is therefore closely linked with other crimes, such as human trafficking, illegal immigration, drug running, terrorism and money-laundering.
Tackling the problem
Given the extent of the problem, it is not surprising that the UK authorities are keen to crack down on identity fraudsters.
How is identity fraud linked to money laundering? Criminals need to launder, or 'clean' the proceeds of their crimes - they want to get 'dirty' money into the financial system. A criminal's funds need to look as if they originate from a legitimate source, and the criminal needs to operate without being caught or arousing suspicion. Criminals therefore need financial products, services or accounts. They are unlikely to use their own identity, as this would leave a trail back to them. This is why, under Money Laundering Regulations, financial services firms must check to ensure they 'know their customer' before opening an account or providing a service.
Premiercallcentre.co.uk can help you make a difference with fraud protection for your company. Call us today to see how we can help you.
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