Is the UK looking at fraud prevention the wrong way round? 

by Doug Pollock, vice president customer success, IDnow 

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In 2023, the UK government announced a series of initiatives to tackle the scourge of fraud in the UK. Chief among these was a detailed paper on its fraud strategy, which it hopes will reduce fraud by 10% by 2025. To do this, the government has earmarked £100 million in additional funds and promised to add 400 more fraud officers to the police force. 

However, with the widespread use of social engineering techniques like social media fraud, alongside increasingly sophisticated fraud attacks like deepfakes, will this be enough to turn the tide? 

IDnow’s recently conducted UK Fraud Awareness Report has revealed that the British public has much to learn about fraud, from the definitions of certain terms to the benefits of using different forms of identity verification technology during onboarding.

The effect of age on the UK’s awareness of fraud

The IDnow UK Fraud Awareness Report, conducted by YouGov, surveyed 2,264 people of different age groups (18-24; 25-34; 35-44; 45-54 and 55+), genders and regions in the UK. The survey is representative of the UK population aged 18 and over. 

Levels of awareness differ dramatically depending on demographics, but not always in the way that one would assume. While 62% of 18-24-year-olds said they know what deepfakes are compared to 39% of people aged 55+, when it comes to social engineering, only 42% of those aged 18-24 are familiar with the term, compared to 50% for the 55+ age bracket, which is a surprising finding for the digital native, tech-savvy generation. 

Interestingly, while the vast majority (83%) of respondents say they know what ‘phishing’ – one of the most common forms of social engineering – means, the younger generation (18-24-year-olds) was the least aware of the term (72%), compared to 85% of those aged 55+.  

Clearly, the case that the younger generation is better informed when it comes to developments in technology is not so open and shut. 

Addressing the gender gap

Gender also seems to play a role in levels of fraud awareness in the UK. According to our survey, 63% of male respondents were familiar with the term deepfake, compared to just 43% of female respondents. This disparity was also seen with social engineering, with 57% of males aware compared to 37% of females. 

What’s in a name? 

While many Brits may not necessarily know the definitions of the latest fraud terms, the majority (93%) are concerned about fraud, with the banking sector the industry that most (75%) were worried about.  

UK banks need to ensure their onboarding and fraud prevention technology matches their customers’ appetite for risk because if customers fall victim to fraud, over half of Brits (54%) say they would move banks. This should be a major wake-up call for financial services to review and improve their fraud prevention mechanisms before the fraudsters gain more ground. 

Know-your-customer (KYC) processes are crucial for businesses to protect their customers—and themselves—from fraudsters. KYC, combined with a range of identity verification solutions, from automated to expert-led, can ensure that the power of identity is put back into the hands of the people it belongs to and the businesses it is trying to interact with. 

Our findings suggest that the UK’s top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to fraud prevention may not be the best strategy. At IDnow, we believe more effort, time, and resources need to be spent on educating the public—and its different demographics—on the dangers of fraud and mandating that the private sector implement robust KYC and identity verification technology. 

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