Cifas CEO Mike Haley Delivers Fraud Prevention Future Vision

Cifas: Fighting fraud by fostering community
In this exclusive, we speak to CEO Mike Haley, head of fraud prevention service Cifas, on the firm’s vision for a winning future in fighting fraud

Cifas is the leading UK fraud prevention service, with the nation’s largest cross-sector fraud-sharing databases. A not-for-profit organisation, Cifas works to reduce and prevent fraud and financial crime across public, private and voluntary sectors. 

Now, we speak to its CEO, Mike Haley, who outlines his vision for a winning future in the fight against fraud by leveraging the power of community. 

Mike Haley, CEO, Cifas

Cifas: On a quest to a future without fraud 

“Our aim at Cifas is to eradicate fraud in the UK,” says Mike. “While it might seem ambitious – as fraud accounts for 38% of all crime in England and Wales – no one had a vision of nearly getting to the moon, so why not set that as our long-term goal?”

Indeed, with fraud rates accounting for a significant portion of UK crime, robust plans must be implemented to meet these aims.

“Our mission is to create the largest counter-fraud community of organisations sharing data, intelligence and knowledge, and use its power to create products and services that protect all.”

Fostering community engagement is what Cifas is all about. As a not-for-profit, the organisation is driven by the needs of its members. So, as more and more within its community see the value in combating financial crime, Cifas’ aims of a future without fraud can also be realised. 

“I want Cifas to be a central component of a new and more effective UK-wide data-sharing architecture that will unlock cross-sector collaboration across the public, private and law enforcement domains,” Mike adds.

Achieving long-term ambitions is first reliant on meeting shorter to mid-term goals. For Cifas, this comes in the release of new products and services that can help its members scale their anti-fraud efforts. 

“We’ll be rolling out a checking service for fraud victims as well as an innovative way for members to conduct beneficiary account checks,” continues Mike. “Both will help organisations protect their institution and customers from Authorised Push Payment fraud.

“We’re also rolling out a product called Vision which allows Cifas members to monitor the ongoing and changing risk profile of a customer through real-time alerts.

“Additionally, our identity protection app will give consumers control of their personal data and protect them from identity fraud. It’s currently in beta testing and on track for a 2025 launch.”

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The importance of multi-sector data sharing 

For a future of active community engagement in preventing fraud, businesses from all industries should see the value in sharing data across different industries. 

When data is shared, Cifas reports a significant uptick in fraud prevention, helping firms willing to share their data prevent a combined £1.8bn (US$2.29bn) in fraud losses.

“Fraudsters will always gravitate to where the money is and exploit weaknesses – whether that’s in a traditional bank, challenger, EMI or new payments mechanism. To combat those attacks, we must expand our defensive perimeter,” Mike says. 

“We want to make the data filed by our traditional finance members available to fintechs to protect them from fraud and benefit from the insight, intelligence, and innovation from across sectors. Reciprocity is our first principle of membership.”

Fraud challenges in fintech

Of course, one industry where fraud is rife is in the fintech space, with the proliferation of Gen AI providing fraudsters with increasingly sophisticated tools to carry out malicious attacks. 

Earlier this week, we looked at how AI can also lead the charge for fintechs to enhance ID verification practices and prevent fraud

Cifas’ CEO reports seeing greater attempts from hackers to circumvent biometric identity factors via AI to access, and take over, customer accounts.

“There’ll likely be more technical attacks at infrastructure using remote access tools and ‘innys’,” he says, “people placed in businesses to bypass security controls or who advertise their insider knowledge. 

“Additionally, fraud-as-a-service will continue to blossom, providing toolkits for less sophisticated criminals to perpetrate mass attacks.

“We also need to find the right balance between security and customer convenience. The two aren’t necessarily contradictory and the use of the right datasets through API call-ups during an onboarding or payment journey can add to security and speed.

“Finally, there’s a challenge to balance the exclusion of bad actors, such as money mules, from the financial system while not excluding the vulnerable or those who have been duped. This is a conundrum yet to be solved.

“Mapping fraud attacks across sectors and determining what data points and intelligence can be deployed at the right time and place to detect risky transactions or bad actors must be done collaboratively.

“It’s critical we share more information between fintechs, social media companies, gambling and crypto, alongside banks. If we create the right frameworks, data flows and safeguards to share real-time risk data, we can defeat fraud.”

Last year, we spoke to Cifas expert and Consultancy Regulatory Solicitor Jeremy Asher, on whether bank fraud detection processes are flawed. 

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