Identity fraud is up 57 percent across all age groups as computer criminals continue to search for potential victims using social media and other means.
On Tuesday, the UK fraud prevention service Cifas announced that identity fraudsters victimised 148,463 individuals living in the United Kingdom, marking a 57 percent increase over the 94,492 individuals who experienced identity fraud in 2014.
Cifas received its data from 261 member organisations, who reported only "confirmed" incidents where "sufficient and clear evidence" indicated a fraud had taken place.
When broken down according to different age groups, the data reveals identity fraud is on the rise among young people. The fraud prevention service tracked a 52 percent increase in identity fraud victims under 30 between 2014 (15,766) and 2015 (23,959). It also found a lack of identity fraud education among young people, including the following statistics:
Such overconfidence among young people is concerning given identity thieves' use of hacking, data loss, and social media to prey upon unsuspecting users and steal their personal information.
Simon Dukes, chief executive of Cifas, elaborates on this point:
"Fraudsters are opportunists. As banks and lenders have become more adept at detecting false identities, fraudsters have focused on stealing and using genuine people’s details instead. Society, government and industry all have a role in preventing fraud, however our concern is that the lack of awareness about identity fraud is making it even easier for fraudsters to obtain the information they need. The likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online platforms are much more than just social media sites - they are now a hunting ground for identity thieves. We are urging people to check their privacy settings today and think twice about what they share. Social media is fantastic and the way we live our lives online gives us huge opportunities. Taking a few simple steps will help us to enjoy the benefits while reducing the risks."
People can protect themselves against identity fraud by limiting the types of information they post online, using privacy settings to restrict what strangers can see of their social media profiles, and keeping an eye out for phishing attacks, which you can learn more about here.
Anyone who thinks they have been affected by identity fraud should contact Action Fraud.