Identity theft victims can spend up to 200 hours rectifying the fall-out from the crime, according to Northamptonshire Police, which has launched a campaign to combat online fraudsters today.
The force is encouraging people to protect their personal information as part of the ‘Not With My Name’ campaign, produced in partnership with the City of London Police.
The scheme has been launched after police figures revealed there had been a 27 per cent increase in identity fraud during the first quarter of 2015.
It gives pointers on creating safe passwords, protecting internet devices, dealing with unsolicited phone calls and emails and safely storing and disposing of mail.
Leading on the campaign, City of London Police Commander Steve Head, said: “Identity crime - the creation of a false identity or the misuse of a genuine identity – is a key facilitator to committing further criminality, evading detection from law enforcement and laundering criminal profits.
“What many of us do not appreciate is the sheer scale of the problem, with one in four adults believed to have been a victim.
“Following the top tips provided by the ‘Not With My Name’ campaign will help people better understand the nature and scale of the threat they face, which in turn will hopefully make them much less likely to fall victim to this type of offence.”
Around 12.275 million people have already fallen victim to identity fraudsters in the UK, it is believed.
Total losses to the UK adult population are estimated to be £3.3 billion.
The average age of a victim is 46, with men being 1.7 times more likely than women to have their identity stolen.
Northamptonshire Police says those falling prey to the fraudsters spend an average of 200 hours trying to resolve the issue.
Victims often find that money has been removed from their bank or their account has been taken over, a fraudulent passport or driving license has been created in their name, or loans, mortgages and mobile phone contracts have been set-up using their identity.
A key part of the campaign will be delivered across police force Facebook and Twitter accounts and on June 29th at 5pm there will be a national Twitter chat, hosted by @actionfrauduk.
Chief executive of the group Get Safe Online, which is helping as part of the campaign, Tony Neate, said: “Something as simple as changing our privacy settings on social media will only take a moment but could protect us from a devastating crime.
“We also need to be wary of ‘phishing’ emails or texts that convince us to share personal data, as well as ‘shoulder surfing’ where people look over your shoulder to get hold of log in details.”
“With more of us now accessing things like online banking on our smart phones when we’re out and about, the simple practices of covering our screens and putting a PIN number on our devices shouldn’t be underestimated. This campaign should be a call to action for people to keep their personal information safe online.”
The ‘Not With My Name’ campaign also coincides with the introduction of new legislation which has been put in place to prevent criminals producing false identity documents using industrialised printing equipment.
The Specialist Printing Equipment and Material (Offences) Act 2015 will enable police officers to arrest people who supply specialist printing equipment to criminals, making it harder for criminals to operate.