Fraud shoots up 10% in the first half of the year
The number of cases of fraud recorded in the first half of 2011 was up 10% compared to the previous six months.
There were 111,504 confirmed frauds in this period and those relating to identify theft made up nearly half the number, according to data from CIFAS - the UK's fraud prevention service.
Cases involving misuse of another person's bank account have risen to their highest levels since 2009 - amounting to 24%.
One in 10 cases involved the illegal access of UK bank accounts and those accounts linked to plastic cards were most at risk.
The use of cheques was also highlighted as more than half the cases of fraudulent bank account activity related to paying in false or altered cheques.
Richard Hurley, CIFAS spokesperson, says someone's personal and financial details are "like a licence to print money" for the modern fraudster.
"Criminals increasingly recruit victims - especially young victims - into being their money mules through employment scams or mystery shopping sites (among others).
"We strongly urge all businesses and consumers to be wary of such scams and activity taking place under the disguise of reputable, honest, transactions," he adds.
Jamey Johnson, head of Action Fraud, says identity fraud costs the UK more than £2.7 billion, with fraudsters gaining more than £1,000 on average from every stolen identity.
"Stolen and false identities are a significant enabler of crime and with more people sharing personal information online and leading busier lifestyles everyone needs to take responsibility to protect their own identity," he warns.
Worried about ID fraud? Check out our guide to protect yourself.
The theft of personal information such as name, address, phone numbers, bank and credit card account numbers, driving licence or national insurance number in order to steal a person’s “identity”. Identity theft then usually results in money being stolen from the victim’s bank account and savings, or the criminal running up enormous credit card bills, obtaining passports and other official documents such as birth, death and marriage certificates in their victim’s name. The National Fraud Authority estimates identity fraud affects more than 1.8m people in the UK every year at a cost of £2.7bn.