Much has happened since we last reported on the Governments approach, the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 received Royal Assent on the 15th March 2022. Our Accredited Counter Fraud Specialist (ACFS) Programmes have been updated to take account of the changes. The Act requires overseas entities who own land to register in certain circumstances; to make provision about unexplained wealth orders; and to make provision about sanctions. When registering, proof of identity is required, and PDA have already delivered training to those completing the checks through the delivery of our popular Identity Documents Fraud Course.
Another major step forward has been the introduction of the Public Sector Fraud Authority (PSFA).Announced in the Chancellors Spring Statement of March 2022, its launch in August 2022 has been a long time coming and we sincerely hope its mission and aims come to full fruition and its longevity far outweighs that of its predecessor, the National Fraud Authority.
A little more concerning have been some of the reports examining the performance of His Majesties Passport Office (HMPO). Ask any counter fraud investigator what fraud type is on the increase and within their top three will be Identity Fraud. The National Audit Office have completed their review into the performance of the HMPO which can be found at nao.org.uk/reports/
Currently there is an unprecedented surge in passport applications due to various factors mainly related to the Covid pandemic and the HMPO is also under scrutiny from the Home Affairs Committee committees.parliament.uk/committee
Those of us who are long enough in the tooth to remember previous annual increases (admittedly not as large as this one) in passport applications will remember the horrendous decisions made at the time that led to minimising security checks on passport applications and a consequential surge in applications from identity fraudsters.
Everything I am reading points to using more technology, recruiting, and training more staff, extending the life of a passport in certain circumstances but nothing about the impact on identity fraud.
The UK really needs to follow the example of some other countries with HMG clearly stating that passports will only be issued when HMPO are fully satisfied of an applicant’s identity, no matter how long it takes and move away from some of the customer service focussed activities designed to bring in the maximum funding for HMG.
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One final thought on this subject, Boris (yes that man) when he was prime minister raised the prospect of putting HMPO in the private sector – a disastrous move should that ever come to pass!