The number of identity theft cases reported in the UK has soared to "epidemic levels", experts have revealed.
New figures released by a leading fraud prevention group show nearly 500 identity frauds are reported every day with people aged between 31-40 and 41-50 the most likely groups to fall victim to impersonation scams.
According to the statistics from fraud prevention body Cifas in total some 89,201 ID frauds were registered in the UK from January to June this year, and four in five of those reported happened in cyber space.
In the majority of the scams, fraudsters pretended to be someone to buy a product or take out a loan in someone else's name and often victims did not realise that they had been targeted until a bill arrived for something they did not buy or they experienced problems with their credit rating.
Analysts at Cifas said the figures showed more had to be done to protect personal data as criminals were "relentlessly" targeting consumers and businesses.
Cifas chief executive Simon Dukes said: "We have seen identity fraud attempts increase year on year, now reaching epidemic levels.
"These frauds are taking place almost exclusively online. The vast amounts of personal data that is available either online or through data breaches is only making it easier for the fraudster.
"Criminals are relentlessly targeting consumers and businesses and we must all be alert to the threat and do more to protect personal information."
What to look out for
Cifas said that smaller and medium-sized businesses in particular should focus on educating staff on good cyber security behaviours and raise awareness of the social engineering techniques employed by fraudsters.
Meanwhile the fraud prevention group also warned that fraudsters get hold of data such as names, dates of birth and addresses through routes including stolen mail, the dark web, hacking or exploitation of information on social media so urged individuals remain vigilant with their security.
A tactic called "social engineering" fraud was also highlighted, where perpetrators obtain targets' personal details by pretending to be from their bank, the police or a trusted retailer so the public should be alert to who they share their details with.