The number of people falling victim to identity (ID) theft in the UK has risen by almost a third, figures suggest.
Data from fraud prevention service Cifas shows that 34,151 confirmed instances of ID fraud were recorded in the first quarter of the year.
Identity fraud occurs when criminals abuse personal data to impersonate a victim or to create fictitious identities to obtain products and services.
To avoid theft of your ID, use our guide to protect yourself from identity fraud.
Credit card and bank account fraud
According to figures for the first three months of 2015, credit cards were involved in 14,103 confirmed cases of ID fraud, while bank accounts were involved in 9,349 cases.
Cifas said that 80% of this fraud was attempted online.
Its chief executive Simon Dukes said: ‘Fraud figures fluctuate over time, as fraudsters adapt and try new ways of achieving their aims.
‘What these figures show is that identity fraud continues to be the most serious fraud threat and that the first quarter of the year has been a very profitable one for organised identity criminals.’
He added: ‘Our data is just the tip of the iceberg – more needs to be done to identify the true scale of fraud in the UK and educate individuals about the dangers and the steps that can be taken to protect themselves.’
Detective chief superintendent Dave Clark, of City of London Police, said: ‘Identity fraud is at the heart of much of today’s criminality, acting as a key facilitator for a host of other types of offences.
‘To stop this from happening, we must all take responsibility for protecting our personal information, especially when working and playing online.’
How to avoid Identity theft
According to Cifas, the average age of ID fraud victims is 46.
However, those in the 21-30 age range are increasingly targeted – 3,970 people of them, in a 26% increase compared with the same period last year.
No matter whether it’s a letter, email or a phone call, never give anyone your PIN or password – always assume it’s an attempted scam.
If your identity has been stolen, you should contact your bank, credit card company and local police on the non-emergency phone number 101 as soon as possible and let them know the situation.
You can also report the fraud using the police fraud reporting service Action Fraud.
- Use our advice to stay ahead of the latest scams
- Learn how to get your money back after a scam
- Use our guide to create secure online passwords