A record 89,000 cases of identity fraud were recorded in the UK in the first six months of this year, according to CIFAS, the nation’s leading fraud prevention service.

This was up 5% from last year. Representing over half of all fraud recorded by the UK’s not-for-profit fraud data sharing organisation, 83% of identity frauds were perpetrated online.

The latest figures show there has been a sharp rise in identity fraudsters applying for loans, online retail, telecoms and insurance products. Although the number of identity fraud attempts against bank accounts and plastic cards has fallen these still account for more than half of all identity fraud cases.

The vast majority of identity fraud happens when a fraudster pretends to be an innocent individual to buy a product or take out a loan in their name, CIFAS reported.

“To carry out this kind of fraud successfully, fraudsters need access to their victim’s personal information such as name, date of birth, address, their bank and who they hold accounts with. Fraudsters get hold of this in a variety of ways, from stealing mail through to hacking; obtaining data on the ‘dark web’; exploiting personal information on social media, or though ‘social engineering’ where innocent parties are persuaded to give up personal information to someone pretending to be from their bank, the police or a trusted retailer,” CIFAS said in a statement.

Simon Dukes, Chief Executive, CIFAS said: “We have seen identity fraud attempts increase year on year, now reaching epidemic levels, with identities being stolen at a rate of almost 500 a day.

“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.

“Smaller and medium-sized businesses in particular must focus on educating staff on good cyber security behaviours and raise awareness of the social engineering techniques employed by fraudsters.  Relying solely on new fraud prevention technology is not enough.”