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We knew 2017 was a big year in terms of identity fraud, with headlines being made week after week and month after month. Now it’s official, it hit an all-time high in 2017 up 8% on the previous year.

The 2018 Identity Fraud Study, by Javelin Strategy and Research, revealed that as many as 16.7million US customers were the victim of identity fraud in 2017, with the amount stolen reaching a huge $16.8 billion!

Although these figures are based on the US, the trends are the same the world over as cybercriminals become smarter year on year to ensure they are always one step ahead of the consumers.

Embedded chip cards and terminals evolved last year, allowing fraudsters to strike on 1.3million more victims last year, despite a huge rise In awareness of the fraudulent activities.

The report also revealed a “notable change” in the way the fraud is being committed.

Credit card fraud still remains the most common form of identity fraud but 2017 saw a “significant growth in the opening of new intermediary accounts such as Paypal and other e-commerce merchants such as Amazon.

“Although not as easily monetized alone, these account types are invaluable in helping fraudsters transfer funds from the existing accounts of their victims.”

The study, which is in its fifteenth consecutive year and has questioned 74,000 respondents since 2003, found that account takeover tripled over the past year, reaching a four-year high.

Total account takeover (ATO) losses reached $5.1 billion, up 120% from 2016, and continues to be one of the most challenging fraud types for consumers with victims paying an average of $290 in out-of-pocket costs and spending 16 hours on average to resolve.

“2017 was a runaway year for fraudsters, and with the amount of valid information they have on consumers, their attacks are just getting more complex,” said Al Pascual, senior vice president, research director and head of fraud & security, Javelin Strategy & Research.

“Fraudsters are growing more sophisticated in response to industry’s efforts to implement better security. Fortunately, there are a variety of digital tools that consumers can leverage to stay better informed on the status of their identities and accounts, and to ultimately stay better protected.”

Would you know what to do if you found out that you had been the victim of identity theft?

We’ve put together some handy tips so you can get your accounts back safe and secure as soon as possible but as revealed above it’s not a two-minute job!