Data taken from 261 companies in the UK showed the number of victims of identity theft rose by 57% last year. Cifas, the fraud prevention service, has suggested that fraudsters are increasingly getting people’s personal information from social media sites – such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Cifas said that there were more than 148,000 victims in the UK in 2015 compared with 94,500 in 2014. A small percentage of cases involved fictitious identities but most fraudsters assumed the identity of a real person after accessing their name, date of birth, address and bank details. More than 85% of the frauds were carried out online. Increasingly, fraudsters used social media to put together the pieces of someone’s identity.

How do you avoid being scammed?

The Get Safe Online campaign warns people –

  • not to give away details such as phone numbers, addresses or date of birth, or pictures of their home, workplace or school, in either profile information or posts
  • to use the privacy features to restrict strangers’ access to your profile
  • be aware of what friends post about you, or reply to your posts, particularly about your personal details and activities
  • pick a user name that does not include any personal information
  • use strong passwords
  • update your computer’s firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware programmes. Up to 80% of cyber threats can be removed by doing this (5th July 2016)