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Financial services fraud grew in the first quarter of this year according to a study. Current account fraud has reportedly reached the highest level in three years.

According to credit reference agency Experian, 44 in every 10,000 current account applications were fraudulent in this period, a 23% increase on the final quarter of last year.

Lying or exaggerating your personal circumstances to gain a current account or overdraft is the most common kind of financial services fraud - which grew by 16% overall over the same period.

The report says that current account fraud is typically committed by the "financially stressed" and it can involve exaggerating income or concealing a bad credit past when applying for an overdraft or bank account.

Most kinds of financial services fraud have increased recently, perhaps reflecting the 'financially stressed' situation many people find themselves in at the moment. Another kind of current account fraud is 'payment abuse' which is simply trying to pay for something with your account when you know the funds aren't there. Four in ten current account frauds involved payment abuse.

And in the first quarter of this year, bogus insurance claims reached a new peak with 13 in every 10,000 applications and claims found as fraudulent.

Credit card and identity fraud also increased at the start of this year, but fraudulent loan applications actually decreased compared with the final quarter of 2011, as well as mortgage and savings account fraud.

Experian uses the fraud prevention systems National Hunter and Insurance Hunter to produce the index.

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