Identity Theft Up 57%

Research has found the number of victims of identity theft rose by 57% as thieves target social media.

The study from fraud prevention service, Cifas, took the data from 261 companies in the UK - which suggests fraudsters are increasingly getting people’s personal information from social media sites.

Cifas said Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn had become a “hunting ground” for identity thieves.

The research found there were more than 148,000 victims in the UK in 2015 compared with 94,500 in 2014.

Cifas said some personal details were found by hacking computers, however increasingly fraudsters used social media to put together the pieces of someone’s identity.

The fraud prevention service said often victims did not even realise they had been targeted until a bill arrived for something they did not buy.

According to a report released earlier this year the estimated annual cost of fraud in the UK was £193bn.The study also found that business fraud accounted for £144bn, while fraud against individuals was estimated at £9.7bn.

Simon Dukes, Cifas chief executive, said: "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. To a fraudster, the information we put online is a goldmine." 

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