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Fraud in the UK is thought to have resulted in victim losses totalling £2.35 billion over the course of a single year. As staggering as that sounds, the total cost of fraud annually is much higher. According to recent reports, the total cost of UK fraud including victim losses, fund recovery, and the investigation and prosecution of criminals, could cost closer to £6.8 billion annually.
Fraud is front of mind right now, in part thanks to the impending PSR mandatory fraud reimbursement rules, which will see the costs of APP fraud being split equally between the sending and receiving institution. But in reality, fraud is ever present, and the demand for fraud prevention services is at an all-time high.
Cifas is the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, taking a key role in protecting customers and organisations. But it’s not the only solution available. This article discusses Cifas and the existing alternatives, for organisations outside of the scope of Cifas, or which are looking to supplement Cifas with alternative provider tools.
Data and information contained in this article was collected from online sources during November 2023. If you want to learn more about how this article was written, or about the providers and services we discuss, get in touch.
What is Cifas?
Cifas is the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, managing the largest fraud database in the country. The not-for-profit membership service allows organisations to share data across all industry sectors to reduce fraud and financial crime.
The UK Government’s Fraud Strategy documents the fact that average APP fraud losses are £3,000 – but some repeat victims lose hundreds of thousands of pounds. Cifas plays a crucial role in protecting vulnerable people – and preventing the business losses that fraud inevitably causes. Since 1988, Cifas has worked with public and private sector organisations in the UK, to help them collaborate to prevent fraud through its fraud database and various other tools as well as helpful approaches to stop fraud at source, such as the fraud triangle model. For individuals, Cifas also offers fraud prevention support, and Cifas protective registration.
Cifas doesn’t operate outside the UK, but global organisations still have access to tools and resources for fighting fraud. There are various alternative solutions that organisations globally can choose, and which UK organisations may want to consider, regardless of Cifas membership status.
What are Cifas markers?
Cifas places markers on a customer’s credit report when there’s a strong suspicion of fraudulent activity. These markers serve as warnings to financial institutions about the risks posed by a potential customer. Cifas provides the platform to register and exchange the so-called warnings, in the form of a marker on the National Fraud Database.
Cifas markers can be issued for a broad number of reasons, and can apply to suspected or confirmed victims of fraud as well as to people suspected to have perpetrated fraud. Markers could be issued to signal someone who is:
- Suspected of committing fraud or insurance fraud
- Suspected of applying for credit fraudulently
- Suspected of misusing someone else’s bank account
- A victim of fraud
- A victim of impersonation
- A victim whose bank account is thought to have been misused by a third party
These markers can be used by organisations such as banks, credit card companies and loan providers to make decisions about whether or not to offer financial products to an individual. They could also show up during required checks for people working in financial services, for example.
The Cifas marker system is GDPR-compliant and allows customers to request a copy of information held about them at any given time. If a customer believes a marker has been incorrectly used there are steps that can be taken to have it reviewed or removed.
What are Cifas checks?
Cifas Identity Checks are powered by the Cifas National Fraud Database, which is accessible to and updated by members. Financial institutions use Cifas identity checks as an integral tool in their customer screening and verification process, thus protecting their customers against identity fraud and account takeovers.
Who are Cifas members?
Cifas has more than 500 members that come from various sectors like banks, credit card companies, retail credit, insurance, telecoms, and even public agencies. While most members are from the private sector, public sector organisations can also exchange fraud data with Cifas to help stop fraud.
Internal Fraud Database members include multinational universal banks and professional services networks, such as Barclays Bank, HSBC, KPMG, Lloyds, Metro Bank, Santander, and NatWest Group.
Why consider a Cifas alternative?
Cifas is a membership association that only includes UK institutions. Despite operating the two largest fraud prevention databases in the UK, its reach does not extend internationally. As a result, its services are not available to financial institutions outside the network or outside of the UK.
While Cifas offers a unique approach to fraud prevention, there are other effective strategies and tools to help protect your organisation. We’ll walk you through some key points about 6 Cifas alternatives one by one, next.
List of Cifas alternatives
- Salv Bridge – collaboration platform, increase recovery rates up to 80%
- Swift Stop and Recall – fraud prevention and fraud recalls for banks
- Mastercard Consumer Fraud Risk – real-time fraud detection for banks
- EBA CLEARING Fraud Pattern and Anomaly Detection (FPAD)
- Feedzai – real-time transaction monitoring and fraud prevention
- Unit21 – real-time transaction monitoring, from startups to Fortune 500 companies
6 Cifas alternatives
Cifas has a crucial role in preventing fraud and identity theft in the UK, and allows better fraud detection and prevention, too. However, if you’re an organisation based outside the UK, you’ll need a different solution. UK organisations may also be interested in using alternative services alongside Cifas, to boost their fraud prevention tools. Here are some to consider.
Great for: real-time fraud detection, borderless operation across the UK and EU, helping large banking groups, fintechs, and VASPs increase recovery of funds up to 80%.
Salv Bridge is a collaboration platform between fincrime teams of trusted network members. Within the platform, fincrime teams across multiple institutions gain access to effective bank warnings, which allows them to join forces and work as a single team. This effectively bridges the gap between risk-based prevention and recall for confirmed fraud, cutting out the delays caused by waiting for a victim report, which often make funds unrecoverable.
The platform is underpinned by advanced encryption, GDPR-compliant in both the EU and the UK, and has been designed to suit organisations across a broad array of industry sectors without any limitations.
Swift Stop and Recall
Great for: global reach for members, predominantly major banks.
The Swift Stop and Recall service allows its members to stop payments during processing and recall the funds. The Swift network is used to securely process international transfers from one bank to another, often via one or more intermediary, or correspondent banks. The Stop and Recall service allows a sending institution to issue a notification in real time, to ask the payment to be returned by the intermediary before it reaches the recipient’s account. That means that if the sender or their bank believes a payment was initiated fraudulently, it can be returned.
Swift has a huge global reach, but it’s worth bearing in mind that it operates on a membership-only basis and is mostly used by banks.
Mastercard Consumer Fraud Risk
Great for: banks looking for real-time data to stop fraudulent wire payments, credit card fraud theft and more.
Mastercard’s Consumer Fraud Risk is a fraud detection solution that uses real-time transaction insights allowing banks to identify suspicious transactions without delay, and effectively investigate fraud. As more and more payments and transactions are processed instantly, live data is essential to make sure that customers can transact safely, and any fraud is spotted, investigated and reversed as soon as possible.
At the time of writing, the Mastercard Consumer Fraud Risk tools are offered for banks only.
EBA Clearing Fraud Pattern and Anomaly Detection (FPAD)
Great for: banks and PSPs involved in STEP2 and RT1 euro payments (in pilot stage at present).
EBA CLEARING is a pan-European payment infrastructure provider that has launched their fraud detection pilot (FPAD) with nine banks across six countries in September of 2023. At the time of writing, the programme is still in the pilot phase, focusing on IBAN/name checks which can improve fraud prevention and overall security for banks involved in euro credit transfers and instant payments using Step2 and RT1.
Great for: comprehensive fraud prevention platform, tailored for both retail and corporate banks as well as fintechs, PSPs and acquirers.
Feedzai has a range of tools covering customer risk assessment for frictionless account opening for genuine customers, and to pick out bad actors and stop identity theft or transaction fraud in real time. AML monitoring and watchlist screening are also offered, both for onboarding new customers and during transactions.
The broad range of solutions available from Feedzai means that their customer split by industry is particularly diverse. While over 20% of customers hail from financial services, banks make up a fairly small 6% of customers, with over a quarter of customers coming from IT and computing sectors.
Great for: real-time transaction monitoring with quick set up and no-code solutions, to suit startups right through to enterprise level businesses.
Unit 21 offers a proactive approach to fraud prevention for risk teams across startups to Fortune 500 companies.
Banks, fintechs, neobanks, payment companies and crypto platforms use Unit21 for real-time transaction monitoring to detect and prevent fraud. Real-time monitoring can be set up by new customers in just a day, and no-code solutions mean customers can evolve their approach, just as fraudsters and criminals change their own methods continually. Stop bad actors and whitelabel good customers, with live transaction monitoring and investigation and recovery tools for when fraud is detected.
How to choose the right Cifas alternative
The right Cifas alternative will depend on your specific organisation’s needs. The Cifas alternatives we’ve highlighted above include some which are membership only, some which have geographical limitations, and some which only deal with one or two specific payment networks.
For example, EBA CLEARING may work if your business is looking for solutions for STEP2 and RT1 payments. On the other hand, Swift covers global geographies but is limited to its members, the majority of which are banks.
Some of these provider features may mean that some of our picks for Cifas alternative won’t suit your business, while others may stand out as worthy of a closer look. Use this guide to start your research, and to help you pick the best Cifas alternative or alternatives for your specific needs.
Cifas alternatives FAQ
Do any of the alternatives offer a fraud database?
Cifas has the two largest fraud databases in the UK. The only alternatives that match in scale and potential are Salv Bridge, Swift Stop and Recall, and Mastercard Consumer Risk Fraud.
Salv Bridge closes the gap between risk-based prevention and recall for confirmed fraud, with borderless operation across the UK and EU. Swift Stop and Recall has powerful global reach, on a membership basis, which targets banks sending Swift transfers globally. And Mastercard Consumer Risk Fraud offers real-time transaction monitoring tools to prevent fraud across card payments, wires and more.
Any one of these solutions may be a good fit for your organisation - it all depends on which specific features matter to you most.
Cifas alternatives & competitors: conclusion
It is essential for financial institutions in the UK to think ahead in preparing for mandatory fraud reimbursement and tackling evolving fraud risks for customers, now and in the future.
Cifas is a fraud prevention service unmatched in impact. However, while it offers powerful data insights, its reach is limited to the UK. If you’re running an international business, or if you’re looking to supplement the tools you use from Cifas with some other features, there are other effective strategies and tools, such as Salv Bridge, which can help large banking groups, fintechs, and VASPs increase recovery of funds up to 80%.