Identity fraud has reached its highest levels since records began, according to the latest figures from leading fraud prevention organisation, Cifas.
A survey of Cifas members shows that nearly 173,000 cases of identity fraud were recorded in 2016, more than ever before.
Online threats are by far the most common, with as many as nine out of 10 fraudulent applications for bank accounts and other financial products made online. Identity fraud makes up more than half of all fraud recorded by Cifas.
The vast majority of identity fraud cases happen when the fraudster pretends to be an individual, buying products or taking out credit in their name.
Cifas is calling for better education around fraud and financial crime and is urging people to be vigilant about protecting their personal data.
Mike Haley, deputy chief executive, Cifas, said:
"There are three simple steps that anyone can take to protect themselves: use strong passwords, download software updates when prompted on your devices; and avoid using public wi-fi for banking and online shopping."
Cifas recommends that everyone should protect themselves in the following ways:
- Set your privacy settings across all the social media channels you use, and think twice before you share details such as your full date of birth, address and contacts details.
- Password protect your devices, and keep your passwords complex.
- Install anti-virus software on your laptop and any other personal devices and then keep it up to date.
- Take care on public WiFi – fraudsters hack them or mimic them. If you’re using one, avoid accessing sensitive apps such as mobile banking.
- Download updates to your software when your device prompts you – they often add enhanced security features.
Read the full breakdown of statistics here.