Identity fraud has risen 22% already this year, when compared with 2022, and is expected to peak over the Christmas period.
Criminals are expected to target victims over the festive period, and last November the rate for credit card fraud was 43% higher than the normal monthly figures, according to data from Experian.
It said it prevented an incident of fraud every minute of the day last year, and stopped more than £1.9bn fraudulent transactions going ahead.
It comes as UK Finance said fraud cost consumers £580m in the first six months of 2023 and £1.2bn was lost in 2022.
While there are many different types of fraud, authorised push payment (APP) fraud is the most common, costing £239m. UK consumers also fell victim to a scam every 12 seconds from January to June this year.
The credit agency said criminals often target victims using multiple channels, for example sending them emails, text messages and phone calls.
It also said personal information, such as addresses or financial account numbers, were able to buy on the dark web giving criminals easy access to stolen details.
To warn people about the heightened risk of fraud over the Christmas period, and ahead of Black Friday this week, the agency has created a video featuring a scammed Father Christmas who has his identity stolen.
‘Victims experience substantial distress too’
Eduardo Castro, managing director of identity and fraud for Experian UK&I, said: “Identity theft and fraud is increasingly prevalent in the UK, and it’s never been more important for people to think twice about their personal information.
“All unsolicited messages should be approached cautiously unless they are sure it’s genuine, and if there is an offer online which seems too good to be true, it more than likely is.
“Fraudsters are always looking at new ways to exploit people’s information. The fraud epidemic is a constantly evolving battle, so there is no room for complacency when it comes to prevention.”
How to protect yourself from identity fraud
It’s important to be constantly looking out for signs of fraud, not just over the festive period. The following five tips, from Experian, can help:
- Don’t overshare on social media. Avoid sharing personal details like mother’s maiden name or when you’re on holiday.
- Re-register on the electoral roll as soon as you move address.
- Never log in to secure accounts on an unsecure public WIFI
- Don’t give out personal details on the phone and never follow links in emails or download attachments.
- Check your free credit report regularly. It’ll show any applications for credit or new accounts.