Fraudulent current account applications have risen by 58 per cent in the first quarter of 2011, according to credit reference agency Experian.
For every 10,000 current account applications seen by the major UK banks, at least 35 were from fraudsters, probably planning to launder money. The level of fraudulent activity in the current account market places it ahead of mortgage and car finance for the first time, Experian added.
Over the whole banking and insurance sector, 20 out of 10,000 financial product applications were found to be fraudulent. In addition, the credit reference agency warned that more individuals were suffering from current account takeover than in the past. Account takeover is when a fraudster poses as a genuine customer to gain control of an existing bank account and then use it for unauthorised transactions.
"As sophisticated identity verification and fraud prevention technologies have made life more difficult for fraudsters, some have turned their attentions to current accounts, believing them to be a softer target," said Nick Mothershaw, the director of fraud and identity solutions at Experian.