Fraudsters prosper from rise in deceased identity theft

LONDON - Sixteen per cent of people who died in the year after March 2008 have had their identities stolen by fraudsters looking to secure products and services in their name, according to research.

There were more than 80,000 instances of deceased fraud over that period according to numbers from Cifas, the non-profit fraud prevention association.

It is believed the real figure could be much higher due to unreported and as yet undiscovered cases.

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 who 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.

Halo, a deceased fraud prevention service, calculated the 16% figure using Cifas and Office for National Statistics numbers.

It also cited BDO Stoy Hayward figures, which showed self-administered pension funds are losing more than £200m annually as money continues to be claimed on behalf of dead pensioners, and Home Office evidence which points out that fraudulent passport applications in the names of deceased people are on the rise.

Chris Worsley, product director at Halo, 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 who will eventually be contacted by debt collectors."



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