Argyll and Bute is among the lowest-risk areas in the UK for identity theft, according to new figures - though the number of people falling victim across the UK has risen by almost a third.
Data from fraud prevention service Cifas shows 34,151 confirmed instances of identity fraud were recorded in the UK in the first quarter of 2015.
Given Argyll and Bute’s relatively small and widely-scattered population, the news that the area is not a hgih-risk one is unlikely to come as a surprise - although even when the figures are evened out, to provide a rate of incidents per 1,000 people, it is still among the areas where the crime is least likely to be carried out.
Identity fraud is when criminals abuse personal data to impersonate a victim or to create fictitious identities to obtain products and services.
According to the figures for the three-month period, credit cards were involved in 14,103 confirmed cases, while bank accounts were involved in 9,349 cases.
Cifas said 80 per cent of identity fraud in the first quarter was attempted online.
Simon Dukes, Cifas chief executive, said: “Fraud figures fluctuate over time, as fraudsters adapt and try new ways of achieving their aims.
“What these figures show is that identity fraud continues to be the most serious fraud threat and that the first quarter of the year has been a very profitable one for organised identity criminals.
“Our data is just the tip of the iceberg - more needs to be done to identify the true scale of fraud in the UK and educate individuals about the dangers and the steps that can be taken to protect themselves.”
Advice for online safety
* Exclude important personal information from your social media accounts.
* Check your social media account privacy settings, including on all your mobile devices.
* Protect your online passwords and make them strong.
* Watch out for ‘phishing’ emails - if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
* Keep your communications networks secure, e.g. Wi-Fi.
* Check for the https:// when visiting websites - the ‘s’ stands for secure.
* Keep a close eye on your bank statements.
If your identity has been stolen, you should contact your bank, credit card company and local police on the non-emergency phone number 101 as soon as possible and let them know the situation.
You can also report the fraud using the police online fraud reporting service Action Fraud - go to http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/.