Fraud avoidance system Cifas detected 67,000 cases of fraud in the first three months of 2001 – a 45% increase on the first quarter of 2000.

Cifas also identified its first cases of insurance fraud – 13 incidents in the first quarter of 2001 – since a number of insurers such as Churchill and Direct Line joined the organisation last autumn.

Cases of false identity fraud showed the largest increase – up 262% in the first quarter of 2001. There were only 2,302 incidents in the first quarter of 2000, compared to 8,345 for the same period in 2001.

Cifas claims identity fraud is easy to carry out in the UK because it has no national identity card system. The anti-fraud system company said it has saved its members £70m so far this year.