Figures for the first eight months of this year recorded by members of CIFAS, the UK's Fraud Prevention Service, show a significant rise in fraudulent misuse of bank account.
There was close to a 12% rise in the number of bank accounts being fraudulently misused over this period, compared with the same period a year earlier - although bank account fraud overall remained stable.
Identity fraud accounted for around half (47%) of all bank account fraud. Identity fraud is defined as using a fake identity, or someone else's identity, to obtain products or services. These frauds have decreased overall in the first eight months of this year.
One example of fraudulent misuse of bank accounts is money-laundering. 'Money mules' could be people who are conned into transferring money through their account somewhere else, or criminals 'in the know'. By disguising transactions as 'payments and refunds', for example, criminals can transfer stolen money through other people's bank accounts.
Dean Bové, the CIFAS Communications Officer warns: "Members of the public must be aware of the ways in which criminals can prey upon their monetary insecurity, in order to make them accessories to financial crime."
A spokesperson for thinkbanking commented: "While we take every precaution to prevent identity fraud or misuse of our customers' bank accounts, we recommend our customers check their account regularly for any unexplained activity and be aware of any money that is coming into and leaving their bank account. If you find any transactions you're uncertain of, report it to your bank."
If you are worried about any suspicious activity regarding your bank account, your bank's website will have information on who to contact. Also, as online banking is becoming such a large part of our daily lives, take a look at Bank Safe Online, the UK banking industry's initiative to help users stay safe online. There's plenty of information on the different risks of using online banking, as well as advice on protecting yourself too.
thinkbanking produced it's own guide last week on being safe online, so feel free to have a look for more information on this issue: Being safe online: how not to fall foul of fraudsters.