Cases of identity fraud increased by two thirds last year, global credit information company Experian revealed in its Victims of Fraud Dossier.
In 2007, more than 6,000 victims of identity fraud
turned to Experian's fraud team for help, compared with just 3,500 the year before, representing a sharp rise of 66 per cent.
For the study, Experian analysed more than 10,000 identity fraud cases by postcode area, victim type and fraud technique.
Findings show that London remains the nation's identity fraud capital, with the highest proportion of residents at risk: on average Londoners are almost twice as likely to fall victim to identity fraud as people living elsewhere in the country.
Within the capital, the likelihood of falling victim to identity fraud is three-and-a-half times higher in Kensington, and in parts of Tooting, south London, even five times higher than the national average.
Other identity fraud hotspots include Richmond-upon-Thames, Putney, Wimbledon and the Kings Road area of Chelsea. For inhabitants of commuter towns such as Guildford, St Albans and Windsor the risk nearly doubles.
There are also a number of high-risk areas spread across the rest of the country, where residents are four times more likely to be picked on by identity thieves, including the CB23 5 postcode in Cambridge, NN 4 5 in Northampton and TS17 5 in Stockton-on-Tees.
The study also revealed that the typical identity fraud victim is aged between 26 and 45, a homeowner and among the highest income earners in the country. People who earn more than £50,000 are three times more likely to be targeted by identity thieves than the average UK citizen.
A completely different group of likely victims are tenants, either renting privately or from local authorities. People in rented accommodation are easy targets for identity thieves as they share mail boxes and tend to move house more frequently than homeowners, thereby opening more opportunities for fraudsters. They are twice as likely to experience identity fraud.
The previously most common identity fraud technique, present address fraud, declined to 30 per cent, while forwarding address fraud – when the fraudster redirects his victim's letters to a drop address and collects them there – is on the rise (36 per cent of all cases).
"The rate of identity fraud growth is worrying. Although some people are statistically more likely than others to become a victim, we should all be concerned. We are all potential victims," Helen Lord, director of fraud and compliance at Experian, comments.
Jim Hodgkins, managing director of CreditExpert.co.uk from Experian, warns: "We all need to take active steps to protect ourselves against identity theft and everyone should regularly check their credit report
using an online monitoring service like CreditExpert.co.uk."
"Doing this enables you to quickly spot any unfamiliar activity on your credit report, such as a fraudulent loan application, and to seek assistance from Experian so that we can help you to sort it out."
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