Record numbers of identity frauds took place this year, with nearly 500 cases reported every day in England and Wales. With 80 percent of victims targeted online, we asked identity fraud expert Sandra Peaston what to remember and to look out for to avoid being caught out.
Use good cyber behaviour - be aware of what you share, install anti-viruses on your devices and don't use public wi-fi spots for sensitive transactions. Be careful on social media - for example, don't have your birth date on Facebook and don't use your pet's name as a password or prompt and then put pics of said pet on Instagram.
Be aware that it's not just individual fraudsters who could be targeting you. Some criminal groups open bank accounts in stolen names so they can launder money, or commit crimes in a different name.
Applying for loans, retail credit and credit cards are the most common ploys, but telecoms is growing. If criminals can walk into a phone shop with enough info to start a contract, they can walk out with a £500 phone for £100 outlay. These phones are often sold on abroad, where they are not locked. Getting something to sell is very appealing to fraudsters.
Warning signs are getting mail you're not expecting, or not getting mail you are expecting. Residents of blocks of flats are often targeted, because the fraudster can then get easy access to intercept mail. Or homes with external mailboxes - they're very easy to reach a hand in.
If you're concerned, check your credit file (which is usually free). Credit companies work together to put credit files right if they've been targeted, but victims can be hit very hard and left emotionally traumatised by the situation. If you're hit at the wrong time, it could prevent you getting a mortgage. You could also end up with a CCJ against your name.