Cases of fraud involving current accounts have soared in the UK in the first quarter of 2012, new analysis has revealed.
Research by credit checking firm Experian has found that more and more people are providing false information in order to open a bank account.
In the first three months of this year, 44 out of every 10,000 attempts to open a bank account were fraudulent.
While it may not sound like a high figure, this is an increase of 23% on the final three months of 2011 and the highest number for more than three years.
Experian has said much of the fraudulent attempts to open a bank account were by people who wanted to hide their credit history.
“Experian’s data shows further growth in current account fraud during the first quarter of 2012,” said Nick Mothershaw, UK director of identity and fraud services at Experian.
“Mostly emanating from individuals providing false information attempting to open new accounts or obtain overdrafts or making payments they knowingly couldn’t afford.”
It was found that the majority of current account fraud was committed by first-party perpetrators – those who paint a false picture of themselves to obtain the account. However, Experian warned that criminals are still targeting innocent individuals.
“The threat of identity fraudsters seeking to open accounts in the names of unsuspecting third parties, for money laundering or as a springboard to attempt fraud on more lucrative credit products, also remains,” said Mr Mothershaw.
It was not just bank account fraud that was found to have increased at the start of this year, as the research found that fraud across the financial services sector was up.
It was found that 19 in every 10,000 applications for financial services, everything from insurance to credit cards, were fraudulent. This is an increase of 16% since the final quarter of last year, when cases of fraud were found in 16 out of every 10,000 applications.
“Credit cards have seen a resurgence in identity fraud, while a growing number of financially stressed individuals consider misrepresenting their personal or payment information when applying for insurance, contributing to a significant fraud upswing in the first quarter of 2012,” added Mr Mothershaw.
There was a 56% increase in fraud on credit card applications, pushing up the rate to 14 cases in every 10,000 applications. At the same time, identity fraud on credit cards went up to eight in every 10,000 applications.