Could you be a target for identity fraudsters? Some 4 million people in the UK have been a victim of this crime, and 80,000 fell victim in the last year alone, so there's a growing chance that fraudsters could have you in their sights. However, there are seven groups of people who are far more likely than anyone else to find themselves a victim of this kind of crime.
We reveal the high-risk groups which are being targeted.
Credit reference agency Experian assessed the profiles of people using their dedicated Victims of Fraud service, and revealed seven key trends.
The well-offPeople who live in large, detached properties - or expensive city centres - are the favourite targets of ID fraudsters. This is understandable, because they have the most cash in the bank, the highest spending limits and the cleanest credit histories. It means that once the fraudsters get into their accounts there is far more to steal.They are up to three times more likely than an average person to become a victim of ID theft.
Young professional rentersThese people are targeted because they are seen as relatively easy targets. They often rent shared accommodation in the city, which means there may be communal postal delivery points where their post can be stolen. This group is also likely to move house regularly, and if post is not successfully redirected it can easily end up in the hands of fraudsters. Their chances of falling victim to identity theft are more than twice as high as the average.
Council or housing association rentersThis is a matter of being an easy target again. They tend to live in flats rented from councils and housing associations, often in and around London. They move regularly and often have communal post collection points - so they are easy to steal from. They are targeted 1.6 times more often than average.
Young familiesWhen the kids are young and parents are in their 30s, they are more likely to have a number of types of borrowing from a large mortgage to loans and credit cards. This gives fraudsters a number of avenues through which to approach their potential victims. In general this group is 1.5 times more likely to be a victim than average. However, if they live in an expensive home they are 2.25 times more likely to be targeted.
London residentsLondon is the identity theft capital of the UK, where you're twice as likely to be an identity theft victim than the UK average. Kensington, Richmond, Putney, Wimbledon and parts of Chelsea are particularly targeted - for a combination of wealthy homeowners, a high proportion of renters, and frequent movers.
Commuter beltTowns in the Home Counties such as St Albans, Guildford and Windsor are also favourite targets. Other top locations for identity theft include Woking, Camberley, Maidenhead, Redhill, Bracknell, Bishops Stortford, Horsham and Bromley. These towns are home to a significant number of wealthy householders - and young families, who have moved out of the centre of London to bring up the children.
Major citiesResidents of Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen also have a higher-than-average risk of identity theft.
Protect yourselfWhether you fall into one of these groups or not, it makes sense to take precautions to protect yourself from ID theft. Experian has released its top ten tips:
- Shred documents that contain personal information before throwing them away.
- Read all bank and card statements to check for suspicious transactions.
- Report thefts of cards or important documents as soon as possible.
- Never respond to cold phone calls or e-mails asking for personal information.
- Don't give too much away on networking websites.
- Register to vote at your current address.
- Monitor your post regularly so you know when to expect important documents.
- Redirect your mail via the Post Office if you move house.
- Never write down or share account details, PINs or passwords.
- Regularly check your credit report to spot applications and spending that are nothing to do with you.