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Identity Theft Now At 'Epidemic' Level

Four in five identity frauds now take place online; with those in their 30s falling victim more than any other age group.

Four in five identity frauds now take place online; with those in their 30s falling victim more than any other age group.

Identity theft is reaching "epidemic levels", according to fraud prevention group CIFAS, with people in their 30s the most targeted group.

ID fraudsters obtain personal information before pretending to be that individual and apply for loans or store cards in their name.

A total of 89,000 cases were recorded in the first six months of the year by UK anti-fraud organisation Cifas. That is a 5% rise on the same period last year and a new record high. According to our latest Warwickshire Cyber Crime Survey, there were an estimated 9,900 cases of identity fraud in the county over the last 12 months. 

"We have seen identity fraud attempts increase year on year, now reaching epidemic levels, with identities being stolen at a rate of almost 500 a day," said Simon Dukes, chief executive of CIFAS.

"These frauds are taking place almost exclusively online. The vast amounts of personal data that is available either online or through data breaches is only making it easier for the fraudster."

The breakdown of victims of identity fraud by age can be seen below:

4 in 5 Identity Frauds Online

More than four in five of the crimes were committed online, with many victims unaware that they had been targeted until they received a random bill or realised their credit rating had slumped. This would prevent them getting a loan of their own.

Fraudsters steal identities by gathering information such as their name and address, date of birth and bank account details.

They get hold of such information by stealing mail, hacking computers, trawling social media, tricking people into giving details or buying data through the "dark web".

The Changing Face of A 'Typical' Victim

Victims are more likely to be in their 30s and 40s, often because a good deal of information about them has been gathered online.

The stereotypical image of a fraud victim is someone who is elderly and vulnerable, but the over-60s are the only age group that has seen cases fall this year compared with the first half of the year, according to Cifas.

The age group which has seen the biggest rise is 21 to 30-year-olds. This finding was mirrored in separate research by credit checking company Experian. It said that since 2014, it was increasingly likely that victims were male, aged in their 20s and living in London.

The Risk of Social Media

The video below, produced by CIFAS, highlights how quick and easy it can be for criminals to access personal information about you on social media:

How to protect yourself from identity crimes

  • Limit the amount of personal information you give away on social networking sites. Your real friends know where you live and know your birthday
  • Consider updating the privacy settings on your social media too
  • Update your computer's firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware programmes. Up to 80% of cyber-threats can be removed by doing this
  • Never share passwords or PINs (personal identification numbers) with others and do not write them down
  • Use strong passwords and PINs - don't use your date of birth or your child's name, include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation marks
  • Do not use the same password or PIN for more than one account
  • Shred all your financial documents before you throw them away

If you fall victim to any scam or fraud, report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or

If you would like support as a result of becoming a victim of any crime, contact Victim Support on 01926 682 693.

More information on how you can protect yourself from online frauds can be found here