Damian Clarkson
Updated: Thu, 15 Dec 2011 14:50:53 GMT | By Damian Clarkson, editor, MSN Money

UK’s biggest ID fraud hotspots revealed

London remains the most targeted city, with seven of the top 10 ID theft hotspots situated in the capital.

ID theft hotspots (© Getty Images)

Londoners are most at risk of identity theft, with the UK's five biggest fraud hotspots all situated in the capital.

Data from Experian highlighted Woolwich as the UK's worst hotspot, with more than 17 fraud attempts per 10,000 adults, followed by East Ham (16) and Victoria Street, SW1 (14.2).

Reading is the worst affected area outside London, with an average of just under 10 attempted attacks per 10,000 adults. The only other non-London towns in the top 10 - Ilford and High Wycombe - are both fairly close to the capital, indicating that fraudsters may now be targeting commuter towns as well.

Manchester second on the list
The worst affected city outside London is Manchester, whose residents suffer 4.85 attacks per 10,000 adults. Interestingly, that is more than seven times higher than in Liverpool (0.66%).

Third on the list is Birmingham (4.46), followed by Glasgow (2), Nottingham (1.62) and Edinburgh (1.62).

Experian Interactive MD Peter Turner described ID fraud as one of the UK's fastest-growing crimes.

"Fraudsters target groups that they know to be vulnerable and London contains a high proportion of such people," he said.

These include: the obviously wealthy, who have access to multiple sources of credit; young professionals who are heavy internet users and who often rent shared accommodation, so move around a great deal, potentially leaving uncollected post; and people in rented accommodation on low incomes, who are often targeted for small amounts and who are most vulnerable to the effects of identity theft.

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How you can avoid becoming a victim
Here are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from becoming the fraudsters' next victim:

  • Always shred or destroy documents that contain personal information before you throw them away. Financial statements are obvious but even an old catalogue showing your name, address and account number could help a thief steal your identity.
  • Read all bank and card statements regularly to check for suspicious transactions.
  • Report thefts of cards or important documents - such as a passport or driving licence - to the relevant organisations as soon as possible.
  • Never write down or share account details, PINs or passwords.
  • Never respond to cold phone calls or emails asking for account details, PINs, passwords or personal information.

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