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How ID thieves target High Net Worth clients

At a glance

  • There were more than 100,000 cases in the UK in 2014 where identity thieves used somebody else’s personal details to obtain products or services
  • 80% of identity theft now happens online
  • In this article, we explore how identity thieves operate, and how your High Net Worth (HNW) clients can avoid becoming their latest victim

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK and your HNW clients could be particularly vulnerable.


Research by data and analytics firm Experian reveals that wealthy couples are the second most frequently targeted demographic for identity theft. The research also reveals that identity fraud victims are being targeted from more affluent towns in the vicinity of the UK’s major cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and London. Research shows wealthy couples were particularly likely to be targeted for credit card fraud or fraudulent loan applications.

Experts say HNW clients are targeted not just because they have more money, but because there are more ways they can be targeted. For example, they are likely to have multiple credit cards and bank accounts and make more purchases online. Along with this, they are more likely to rely on employees or other intermediaries to make purchases for them – all of which increases their susceptibility to crime.

How do identity thieves work?

Research shows identity thieves used personal details belonging to others to obtain products or services on more than 100,000 occasions in 2014.

To assume somebody else’s identity, criminals will seek to acquire multiple pieces of personal information, for example credit card details, home addresses and passwords (see boxout).

Identity thieves will use various routes to acquire the information they need. It is estimated around 80% of identity theft now happens online; however, criminals don’t necessarily have to hack into an individual’s computer to obtain personal information.

There are various channels ID thieves will use:

  • Tricking people into giving away personal information via email or website phishing scams
  • Scouring an individual’s social media accounts to find useful personal information such as their date of birth or other personal identifiers
  • Tricking people into divulging personal information over the phone, or in response to letter scams
  • Stealing items of ID, such as passports and driving licences
  • Searching through discarded rubbish in the hope of finding paperwork such as bank statements or credit card applications

How can you minimise your HNW clients’ risk of ID theft?

Zurich Private Clients’ Identity Fraud Cover will pay the following costs and benefits incurred as a direct result of an identity fraud:

  • Loss of income: if a client has to take time off work, to amend or rectify records regarding their identity, we will pay up to £500 per day for loss of personal income or compensation for annual leave
  • Legal advice involved in assisting a client to restore their credit history
  • Removing incorrect information held on a client’s credit report
  • Protective registration with CIFAS
  • Replacing passports, driving licences or birth certificates, should they be lost or stolen
  • Re-submitting applications for loans, grants, or other credit or debit instruments that are declined solely as a result of the lender receiving incorrect information as a result of an identity fraud incident
  • Notarising affidavits or other similar documents, telephone calls and postage incurred by a client as a result of their efforts to amend or rectify records regarding their identity
  • Legal representation and any related court costs for a suit brought against a client by a creditor, collection agency or other entity acting on behalf of a creditor, for non-payment of goods or services or default on a loan as a result of an identity fraud incident
  • Assisting in the removal of any civil judgment wrongfully entered against a client as a result of an identity fraud incident. The most we will pay during any one period of insurance is £50,000

Preventing identify theft requires a combination of online and physical security measures.

Online measures your HNW clients should take to prevent ID theft are to:

  • Never divulge private information in response to a request via an email or website, unless they are certain the request is from a legitimate source
  • Use a password that is difficult to guess and change it regularly
  • Avoid sharing too much personal information on social media
  • Be wary of phishing scams
  • Avoid using shared public PCs to access internet banking
  • Only use reputable websites to purchase goods/services

Physical security measures your HNW clients should take to prevent ID theft are to:

  • Securely file sensitive documents, and shred those they no longer need
  • Arrange for paperless bills and statements where possible
  • Redirect mail when they move home
  • Be aware of people who may be looking over their shoulder when entering passwords or PINs into a computer or ATM
  • When travelling, lock their passports, driving licences and other items of identification in a safe when they are not required

Spotting the signs of identity theft

As identity theft does not always have to involve the physical theft of items, it is possible some time may pass before victims realise they have been targeted. For example, if clients don’t check their bank statements regularly, they may not notice unusual activity.

Your clients should be looking out for indications of identity theft, such as:

  • Unusual entries on bank or card statements
  • An absence of usual bills or correspondence (a criminal may have given a different address in place of the victim’s)
  • Being unable to log in to an online account (a criminal may have logged in to that account using the victim’s password, and subsequently changed the password)

If your client discovers they have become a victim of identity theft, it is vital they act quickly to limit the damage. For example, if they suspect a criminal has discovered one of their passwords and used it to access one of their online accounts, they should immediately change their passwords on all other websites and accounts.

How can Zurich Private Clients help?

In addition to the Travel enhancements made in October, we also redefined our lifestyle covers to protect your clients. Clients who choose one of Zurich’s Ultimate Home and Ultimate Exclusive Home products will benefit from identity fraud cover (see box out).

Further enhancements to the lifestyle section of our Home policies include:

  • A multiple claim excess waiver for claims involving more than one section of cover. Only the highest policy excess will apply
  • Carjacking and road rage limits widened to cover anyone occupying your client’s car. Previously, this only covered your client or an insured relative
  • Legal protection cover limit increased to £250,000 for your Ultimate Exclusive clients

To find out more about these products or services, speak to your usual Zurich Private Clients Account Executive.

Image © Getty

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