In Brief

Identity theft 'at epidemic levels'

The elderly are no longer the most likely victims as fraudsters target men in their 20s, 30s and 40s

Identity theft in the UK is reaching "epidemic levels", according to the country's leading fraud-prevention group.

More than 89,000 cases were recorded in the first six months of this year by anti-fraud organisation Cifas, a five per cent rise on the same period last year and a new record.

The crime, in which fraudsters obtain personal information before applying for loans and credit cards in that person's name, accounts for more than half of all fraud recorded by Cifas.

More than four in five of these are committed online, with the most likely victims in the 30s and 40s, often because a substantial amount of information about them has been gathered online.

Separate research by the credit-checking company Experian found that victims are increasingly likely to be male, aged in their 20s and living in London. The stereotype of a fraud victim being elderly and vulnerable no longer applies.

While many victims are often unaware they have been the victim of identity theft, the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones warns that having an online presence makes it "quite hard to avoid".

"Identity theft is big business," he says. With the amount of personal data online and an ever-increasing number of hackers, "it is thriving on the dark web".

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