The number of victims of identity theft rose by 57% last year, Cifas, a fraud prevention service, said.

There were more than 148000 victims in the UK last year, compared with almost 94500 in 2014.

Identity fraud happens when a criminal pretends to be an innocent individual in order to take out a financial product, such as a loan or credit card, in their name. Victims often do not realise they have been targeted until a bill arrives for something they did not buy or until they have a problem with their credit rating.

Fraudsters often trawl social media sites to find personal information, such as your name, date of birth, address and name of your bank.

They will gather the information in a number of ways, from hacking to using posts on social media to “put the pieces of someone’s identity together”.

Simon Dukes, chief executive of Cifas, said: “As banks and lenders have become more adept at detecting false identities, fraudsters have focused on stealing and using genuine people’s details.”

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