Application fraud by borrowers jumps

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The Independent Online

The number of people committing fraud by lying on application forms for loans, credit cards and insurance products jumped in the first half of the year, as consumers turned to desperate measures to get their hands on new credit.

According to CIFAS, the fraud prevention agency, the number of discovered cases of so-called "application fraud" during the first six months of the year increased by more than 12 per cent since the end of 2007. CIFAS said the most common lie was a failure to disclose a previous address where the applicant had built up a bad credit record.

New loans and credit cards have become harder to come by since the start of the credit crisis, particularly for those with poor credit histories. But with the cost of housing, fuel and food on the rise, some consumers have been trying everything possible to secure additional finance.

"Those who think that lying on application forms will give them any advantage need to realise that their efforts are counter-productive," said Peter Hurst, chief executive of CIFAS. "Fraud data sharing and the linking of individuals' address histories by credit reference agencies means that such lies are identified, applications are turned down and the details recorded. Telling the truth, even if it is slightly less palatable, remains the best policy."

There was also a sharp rise in "facility takeover" fraud during the first half of the year, where fraudsters' gain access to someone's accounts by impersonating them. This rose by 157 per cent during the first half.

While the introduction of chip and pin has helped to reduce card fraud, CIFAS said this was being replaced by other types of fraud. "Credit has become harder to obtain," said Mr Hurst. "As a result, not only are fraudsters turning their attentions to accounts that are already in existence, but consumers and anti-fraud departments are also feeling the effects. More lies are being told to gain credit, and this creates even greater workloads on the desks of those on the front line."