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Identity theft surges in the recession

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The number of people who have suffered from the crime of identity theft has shown a sharp rise in the first three months of the year.

According to Cifas, the fraud prevention service, there has been an increase of 40 per cent from January to March in those reporting that their personal financial details have been stolen by fraudsters.

Criminals have been assuming the identities of both individuals and businesses in order to take funds and to buy goods.

The figures also indicated that instances of facility takeover theft is climbing too, up by 75 per cent on last year. Instead of simply using someone else’s identity to open new bank accounts or acquire credit cards, facility takeover involves fraudsters infiltrating accounts that are already in use.

Insurance fraud has likewise revealed a rise, up by 44 per cent, a surge in false or overestimated claims that is probably the result of the recession.

Peter Hurst, the chief executive of Cifas, said: “There has been much attention given to the financial impact of the current economic turmoil on society. Fraud is yet another aspect and one that should not be overlooked.

“As we all continue to batten down the hatches economically, these figures demonstrate clearly that we must, individually and collectively, continue to be alert to the threats surrounding us. From looking after our own identities and personal details, through to ensuring that data sharing is used appropriately to prevent further fraud, we must not allow fraudsters to make the cost of recession any greater.”