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Fraud often thrives during an economic downturn, reveals one expert, with people advised to keep a close eye on their finances.

Neil Munroe, external affairs director for Equifax, says it is not only the occurrence of such crimes which is rising, but also the methods which fraudsters use.

"The figures from Cifas [the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service] do show a slight downward trend but they do not cover all types of identity theft, for example individual credit card transactions," Mr Munroe states.

People become more desperate as their financial circumstances get worse, he continues, with individuals being more tempted by offers to get them more cash.

However, debt management firms are able to help those who are in financial difficulties without the need to resort to fraud.

According to Cifas, in 2008 there was 16 per cent growth in fraud throughout the UK, with criminals turning to the misuse of facility fraud.

Furthermore, there was an increase in the number of successful identity frauds, with Cifas reporting a 5.7 per cent increase during last year.

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