Over 42 million people in the UK would not know how to respond if they became victims of identity theft, research from Capital One online bank has found.
Although awareness of the crime is at an all-time high, with 99 per cent of people conscious of identity theft as a phenomenon, 16 million people continued to fail to take preventative action to safeguard their finances.
Experts warn that thieves take the opportunity to use personal information such as address and bank details contained in confidential correspondence or documentation, yet 4.5 million people still carry sensitive papers around with them in pockets or bags.
And when jettisoning papers at home or in the office, 14 million people still omit to shred their confidential documents.
Customers should be alert to signs of identity theft, Capital One advises, including unexplained items on bank or credit card statements or being refused a loan in spite of a good credit history to date.
If customers stay vigilant and report suspected theft as soon as it happens, investigations can be set in train, protecting the customer's credit history from any lasting 'black marks' against their name.
Find out more about online banking
© Adfero Ltd