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An Abney Associates Fraud Awareness Program: Fraud soars as Britons fail to protect online identity

The number of confirmed identity fraud cases increased by 37 per cent between 2012 and 2013, new data reveals.
Analysis by credit-checking specialist Experian found that almost 13,000 cases of fraud were confirmed in 2013, with the biggest increases reported in account takeover fraud, loan fraud and mobile phone account-related fraud.

Experian said these increases are linked to the online habits of Britons.

Separate research into consumer behaviour online suggests that one person in 10 never changes their passwords and one in 20 uses the same passwords for all of their online accounts.

With an average of 19 online accounts each, this could make it easier for fraudsters to get a hold of valuable information.

Pete Turner, managing director of Experian Consumer Services, said: "Although we have witnessed an increase in those seeking support having become victims of fraud, the good news is that improved fraud detection services are catching more and more fraudulent credit applications before many suffer financial loss."

Experian recommends that consumers always shred financial documentation after use, use strong passwords when banking online and avoid choosing online passcodes out of the dictionary.

They also recommend ensuring that sites are encrypted - indicated by a padlock symbol - before entering payment details, locking your smartphone's home page to protect any apps or images with important information, and keeping important details like birthdays and your mother's maiden name off social media.

Turner said: "Fraud is not just about financial loss. If your identity is compromised it takes on average 246 days to discover you have become a victim of fraud. That's a long time for a criminal to have and use your identity for their gain, and potentially harm your reputation and credit rating."