The survey measured three key elements of personal fraud:
- Whether a person was a victim of personal fraud.
- Financial losses incurred by victims of personal fraud.
- People's exposure to a range of selected scams.
Personal fraud comprises identity fraud and scams within the survey, and identity fraud is further split into credit or bank card fraud and identity theft. Selected scams include:
- pyramid schemes,
- chain letters,
- fake notifications or offers from a bank or financial institution,
- fake notifications or offers from an established business,
- requests to send bank or financial details to another person, and
- other scams.
Detailed socio-demographic characteristics of victims, as well as characteristics of incidents for each type of personal fraud were also collected. Characteristics of victims include data items such as age, sex and income. Characteristics of incidents include data items such as the method of fraud delivery and whether the fraud was reported.
Identity fraud involves the theft of a personal details without a person's consent. The person's name, date of birth, address, financial details or other personal details are then used to engage in fraudulent activities, such as conducting business, purchasing goods, withdrawing cash, opening accounts, taking out loans or avoiding criminal liability. In the survey this comprises identity theft and credit or bank card fraud.
A scam is a fraudulent invitation, request, notification or offer, designed to obtain someone's personal information or money or otherwise obtain a financial benefit by deceptive means.
EXPOSURE TO SCAMS
For the purposes of this survey, a person was deemed to have been exposed to a scam if they received an unsolicited invitation, request, notification or offer, and viewed or read the unsolicited material. There is no differentiation between exposure and victimisation for other types of personal fraud.
- Scams - A person was defined as a victim of a scam in the Personal Fraud Survey if they responded to a scam invitation, request, notification or offer by way of supplying personal information, money or both, or if they sought more information from the sender of the scam.
- Identity fraud - A person was defined as a victim of identity fraud if they had their credit or bank card, other personal details or documents, such as driver’s licence, tax file number or passport, used by another person for unauthorised gain. This included instances where business transactions were conducted or accounts opened in the victim’s name without permission, or any other uses of their identity without permission. Persons who became aware of an occurrence of identity fraud against them were considered to be a victim.
A person could have been a victim of one or more selected personal fraud types and where this was the case they were counted in each personal fraud type. For example a person may have been a victim of both a chain letter scam and a lottery scam. This person would be counted in both categories. See Explanatory Notes, paragraph 27 for further information.
TYPES OF PERSONAL FRAUD
The following selected personal frauds were included as part of the survey. More detailed information about these frauds can be found in the Glossary.
- Credit or bank card – this involves the unauthorised use of a credit or bank card.
- Identity theft – this involves the theft and fraudulent use of personal details or documents such as a driver's licence, tax file number or passport to conduct unauthorised transactions including conducting business or opening accounts in another person's name or otherwise using a person's identity without permission.
- Lottery – a scam where a person is advised that they have won a lottery they have not entered. They are then asked to provide personal information to prove their identity and/or send a fee or bank account details in order to collect the prize.
- Pyramid scheme - a multi-level selling technique where the main feature is that earning money and gaining promotion depends on recruiting other people into the operations rather than selling a product or providing a service.
- Chain letter – an invitation to send a specified amount of money or goods to a person named at the top of a list. The target is then asked to remove the name of the sender at the top of the list and replace their own at the bottom of the list before sending the list on to others to follow the same procedures. The target at the bottom of the list moves up a rung with the expectation that they will eventually reach the top and reap rewards by converting others to keep the chain moving and supplying money.
- Fake notification or offer from a bank or financial institution – an offer, request or invitation which appears to be from a bank or other financial institution and is designed to obtain personal information, money or another financial benefit from a person. Offers may be received over the phone (including by SMS), in person, by email, post or any other correspondence which was opened and read. When conducted electronically, these scams often purport to be from a legitimate bank, but actually direct a person to a hoax website to verify their account details.
- Fake notification or offer from an established business – an offer, request or invitation which appears to be from an established business (e.g. pay pal) and is designed to obtain personal information, money or another financial benefit from a person. Offers may be received over the phone (including by SMS), in person, by email, post or any other correspondence which was opened and read. When conducted electronically, these scams often purport to be from a legitimate business but actually direct a person to a hoax website to verify their account details.
- Request to send bank details to another person – an unsolicited request by a person (that is. not a bank, financial institution or business) for another person to send them their bank details, such as an account number, password, or credit card details. The request may be made by phone (including by SMS), in person, by email, post or any other correspondence which was opened and read.