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Identity theft reaching ‘epidemic levels’, says Cifas

Cherry Reynard
Written By:
Cherry Reynard

Those in their 30s are most likely to be victims of identify theft, according to fraud prevention group Cifas.

The group said identity theft is reaching ‘epidemic levels’ with a total of 89,000 cases recorded in the first six months of the year, a 5% rise on the same period last year.

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

“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.

He added: “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.”

ID theft accounts for more than half of fraud recorded by Cifas and more than four in five of these crimes were committed online. Often victims aren’t aware of the problems until some time later, when they struggle to obtain a credit card or loan. Research from Experian’s Victims of Fraud team showed it takes an average of 292 days for people to discover their information has been used for fraudulent purposes.

Fraudsters steal identities by gathering information such as their name and address, date of birth and bank account details. Experian said the five main ways of stealing your identity are theft, cold-calling, hacking, phishing and data breaches.

While the prevailing view is that older generations are more vulnerable, in fact, victims are more likely to be in their 30s and 40s because it is easier to get information about them online. Cifas said that the over-60s have seen cases of identity theft fall this year. The age group which has seen the biggest rise is 21 to 30-year-olds.

Five ways fraudsters can steal your identity

Experian outlines five common ways fraudsters can steal your identity:

Common theft

You could be burgled and have your personal possessions taken, for example your purse containing your ID.


Fraudsters call you pretending to be a genuine business and mislead you into giving away personal and financial information.


Software is deployed to hack into your computer or information is taken from your smartphone.


Fraudsters send an email that appears to be from a trusted company to get you to click a link and enter your personal information, such as your banking details.

Data breach

Customer information could be stolen from a service provider. There have been a number of high-profile data breaches in recent years.