One in four burglary victims falls foul of identity fraudsters using snatched documents, it was claimed today.
Householders are making life easier for thieves by leaving important paperwork bundled near their home computer, researchers found.
Criminals already target bank cards, building society documents and cheque books because of their potential value. But experts believe they are increasingly hunting for less obvious items such as passports, driving licences and utility bills.
The set of documents can be used within minutes of a break-in to set up fraudulent internet transactions, leaving victims and banks to pick up the bill.
A spokesperson for a leading home insurance provider said the number of home owners burgled specifically for their personal documents is likely to soar. He said: “As the trend for identity fraud increases, we would strongly urge homeowners to take appropriate measures to limit their chances of being targeted by thieves and fraudsters.
“As well as installing home security measures such as burglar alarms and security lights, home owners should ensure they store personal documents securely – and if possible separately – to minimise the risk of identity theft.”
Researchers who spoke to 202 burglary victims found identity documents such as bank statements, driving licences and bills were stolen in many cases.
They found 75% of all victims had personal details stolen and 27% became victims of identity fraud as a result. The study found bundles of personal documents are highly prized by fraudsters who pay around £150 for them on the black market.
Experts believe an average case of identity fraud leaves the victim with costs of around £2,150.