Fraud in the UK jumped nearly 16% in 2008, with 214,342 cases identified throughout the year as recession-hit Brits turned to crime "to make ends meet", according to Cifas.
The fraud prevention service says the rise is partly attributable to a massive 207% jump in facility takeover fraud - where a third party accesses an account, usually through phishing, telephone scams or the interception of cards and statements. The number of accounts taken over rose from 6272 in 2007 to 19,275 last year.
Misuse of account fraud - where criminals fraudulently use an existing account, policy or other facility - also rose steeply, up 69% from 23,400 to 39,447. Cifas says bank account products are the most commonly misused, with criminals paying in false or altered cheques or fraudulently obtaining benefits.
The number of victims of impersonation for the purpose of identity fraud fell 3.7% to 62,658. However, there was an overall increase of 5.7% for successful ID fraud to 34,011.
Explaining this contradiction, Cifas says the scarcity of credit being offered means fraudsters are attempting to create creditworthy fake identities rather than impersonating genuine people who may still have applications rejected by lenders.
Peter Hurst, chief executive, Cifas, says: "With Britain now in recession, a significant rise in fraud is inevitable, as people turn to crime to make ends meet. These figures are just the beginning. They also show very clearly that fraudsters adapt their methods in response to changes in the financial markets."