Online identity theft reaches record high

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Identity theft has reached an all time high with 172,919 cases being recorded in 2016 according to Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service.

Identity theft happens when a fraudster takes out a loan or buys a product in the name of an unsuspecting victim and the latest information from Cifas shows how over half (53.3 per cent) of all UK fraud cases in 2016 were examples of identity theft and 88 per cent of thefts were perpetrated online.

Number one fraud threat

Bank account fraud appears to be the biggest threat too with nine out of 10 fraudulent applications for bank accounts (and other financial products like loans) being made online.

“These new figures show that identity fraud continues to be the number one fraud threat,” says Mike Haley, Deputy Chief Executive, Cifas.

“These new figures show that identity fraud continues to be the number one fraud threat. With nine out of ten identity frauds committed online and with all age groups at risk, we are urging everyone to make it more difficult for fraudsters to abuse their identity.”

Under 30s biggest victims

Fraudsters often use social media as a means to gather information about a victim and according to Cifas young people appear to be most at risk too with almost 25,000 victims being under 30, and a reported increase of 34 per cent in under 21s.

There was an increase in the number of over 40s being defrauded too with 1,869 cases being recorded in 2016.

Haley adds, “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.”