More than four million Britons have become victims of identity fraud, new figures released by Sainsbury's Bank have revealed.
Conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres, the survey of 1,000 UK residents showed that some 4.1 million Brits have had their identities stolen at some point, supporting figures from Cifas, the UK's fraud prevention service, which showed that identity fraud has soared by more than 500 per cent since 1999.
The average amount lost was £3,039, although a particularly unfortunate six per cent of respondents said they had lost more than £10,000 to identity fraud.
Donald MacLeod, credit card manager at Sainsbury's Bank, said: 'Identity theft is a very serious problem and one that is getting much worse, so we all need to take greater care in protecting ourselves.
'This could involve having a policy in place to protect against this crime, but it should also involve taking steps to reduce the chances of ID thieves being able to steal your personal details.'
The south east and London were revealed as the UK's identity fraud hotspots, with 16 per cent of respondents from these regions saying they had been the victims of the crime, compared with just four per cent in Scotland.
The online channel posed one of the gravest threats to an individual's identity, although the survey also revealed that three quarters of household waste contains at least one item of financial documentation that could help fraudsters.