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Current accounts now top target for fraud, say experts

Criminal holds bank card

Current accounts have become the number one target for financial fraudsters in the UK, according to data company Experian.

In the first quarter of 2015, it said that 0.89% of applications for current accounts came from criminals.

The figures mean that bank accounts have overtaken mortgages as the biggest source of attempted fraud.

In comparison, 0.83% of mortgage applications were fraudulent over the same period.

The main reason for the rise was "an exponential increase" in identity fraud, when criminals use somebody else's personal details to set up an account.

Of those trying to open accounts fraudulently, 49% used a stolen identity. That was up from 32% in the first three months of 2014, said Experian.

The firm is employed by many High Street banks to detect criminal activity.

Phishing

Criminals opening current accounts are then able to access other financial products, such as credit cards, which are also used to steal money.

Many will have obtained personal details through phishing emails, which trick account holders into revealing numbers and passwords.

"Knowing what your bank can and cannot ask you for will help you avoid phishing scams," said Nick Mothershaw, a director of identity and fraud at Experian.

"Making sure sensitive mail is shredded is also important."

Customers who are the innocent victims of fraud are usually reimbursed by their bank. Nevertheless account holders are being warned to be vigilant.

"It's important to be alert, so if you get a call, text or email out of the blue, don't reveal any information unless you are absolutely sure who you are dealing with," said Jon Sacker, of Financial Fraud Action UK.

Action Fraud, which works alongside the Police, recently said that a third of people fail to take sufficient measures to protect their online details.

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