Identity theft: significant and far reaching consequences for citizens and businesses in Jersey
According to the US Federal Trade Commission, 2021 was the worst year of all time for identity theft. More than 5.7 million Americans were victims of identity theft and fraud, suffering losses in the billions.
Identity fraud accounted for 63% of all cases of fraud recorded to the National Fraud Department in 2021. There were also 226,000 reported cases of identity fraud in the UK in 2021.
Closer to home, according to the Jersey Fraud Prevention Forum, in Jersey Islanders have lost £400k to “romance fraud” over the past four years. In the case of romance fraud, criminals often adopt a persona or commit identity fraud to use an innocent individual’s identity to extort money or other items from an unsuspecting individual.
It is clear that identity theft is on the rise with the impact far reaching, for both individuals and businesses.
Identity theft can of course lead to the thieves committing fraud which can stretch beyond the realms of financial loss and have a longer term financial impact for victims - impacting their ability to obtain loans, credit cards or a mortgage until the matter is resolved with potential credit score consequences.
In one particularly severe case of identity fraud, an individual became liable for a total of £164,000 of debt after having his passport stolen. The passport was used to set up bogus companies, which then ran up debts with the German tax authorities. (Equifax 2022)
The mental impact of being a victim of identity theft and the levels of stress experienced by victims should also not be underestimated.
So why is this type of criminal activity on the rise? Unscrupulous individuals can use identity theft as a means of circumnavigating mandatory regulatory processes and regimes, using stolen identities to open accounts in reputable jurisdictions which are then used to deposit and transfer funds obtained in the proceeds of crime; a nightmare for individuals and institutions alike.
Much has been surmised in relation to the perpetrators of cyber crime involving identity fraud, specifically in relation to their motivations and identities. It is widely recognised that identity theft can enable those who are party to economic sanctions to move funds outside of frozen accounts or structures. Identity fraud creates financial opportunities for individuals who may have refused to comply with international treaties or agreements or who have contributed to terrorist regimes or dictatorships.
Consequences for the perpetrators of identity fraud include hefty fines, restitution, or imprisonment. For those organisations who open accounts or provide financial services for businesses set up with fraudulently acquired identities, fines can be significant and regulatory consequences damaging.
Yet, instances of identity theft continue to rise. It is therefore crucial for individuals to protect their data and identities at all costs and for institutions to be increasingly more vigilant in their take on processes to avoid facilitating identity fraud.
Forged in Jersey from our deep understanding of regulation and technology, Vaiie is part of the Jersey Post Group and provides cutting edge regulatory technology that enhances, secures and digitises compliance processes for its clients in the financial services. Vaiie sets new digital standards in regulatory technology so that customers can make smarter decisions. We work with the biggest names in the financial, insurance, telecommunications and energy sectors making us one of the largest offshore data handlers. We digitise experiences to enhance the way businesses meet their regulatory obligations.
Vaiie recognises the challenges faced by organisations in verifying the identity of prospective and existing clients and why this matters in today’s fast paced environment where businesses are required to verify their customer’s identities.
Our Identify product verifies customer identities in minutes with fast, secure and easy to use ID authentication, facial recognition and liveness checking. By providing a simple mobile-first experience to the client, Identify allows you to control your own, branded, customer onboarding experience and enables the client to follow a simple and secure process to submit all of the relevant documentation required.
Businesses and their customers who use Vaiie Identify can do so in the knowledge that we are helping to filter out those seeking to harm individuals and abuse the financial system. Digital solutions that are capable of doing more than the human eye are one of many tools available to firms as part of their compliance and cyber security defences.
October is Cyber Security Awareness Month and this year Jersey’ Cyber Emergency Response Team has brought together a number of organisations to develop a significant plan of activity. The objective is to engage the local community and raise levels of cyber security awareness in order to prepare for, protect and defend against cyber crime. With increasing levels of fraud being experienced by individuals and organisations, it feels timely and relevant to support the Jersey community in the war against identity theft and cyber crime.
This Cyber Security Awareness Month, Vaiie are sponsoring a RegTech panel event as part of the Channel Island Information Security Forum Conference. We are also taking part in a Fintech Community of Interest event with Jersey Finance and Digital Jersey which is focussed on discussing RegTech opportunities with Jersey’s financial services community.
We recognise the need to support individuals and businesses on the island to increase their awareness of cyber security and to protect their data and we know we can support organisations in verifying the identity of their customers so as to avoid facilitating identity fraud.
If you would like to find out more about Vaiie or the ways in which our Identify product can support you in accurately verifying your customer identities and improving your customer onboarding experience, please contact Richard Gaudin.
Further details of the Cyber Security Awareness Month programme of events can be found at www.cert.je/events
This article was originally published in October's Connect magazine.