Some four million Brits, around seven percent of the population, have been a victim of identity fraud, says Fellowes.

Research by the firm that manufactures shredders, which has been released to mark the start of National Identity Fraud Prevention Week (NIDFPW), revealed on average ID fraud costs each victim £1,190 through ID fraud, although some have as lost as much as £9,000.

Furthermore, despite 95 percent of Brits being aware of ID fraud, just a quarter take precautions such as shredding bills or banbk statements before dumping them in a bin and just over half (57 percent) verify emails or calls from organisations before responding with personal details.

Nearly six in ten (59 percent) don't follow up post if it fails to arrive while 46 percent admit they wouldn't report a lost driving licence or passport immediately and only 13 percent say they regularly check their credit rating.

Nearly nine in ten (88 percent) of social networkers admitted to sharing information that could be used to commit identity fraud such as their address or date of birth and only 18 percent of those surveyed said they were concerned about sharing information on or the security risk of social networking sites.

However, more than four in five (83 percent) said they check bank statements and credit card bills for unfamiliar transactions and 86 percent use security software on their PC to protect them when surfing the web.

Andrea Davis from Fellowes, said: "No-one can afford to be complacent about ID fraud, everyone is at risk, whether young or old. It is important to ensure that you are not delivering your information straight into the hands of fraudsters. The risk is very real – both off and online - and we should all be taking steps to protect our identities".

"It is worrying that one in four people may be literally throwing their identities away and a huge number of people are sharing sensitive information on line. Simple steps like shredding sensitive information, being careful about the information you share online and generally being cautious about giving out your personal details will help to keep your identity safe."

The Stop ID Fraud website offers advice and tips on how to prevent ID fraud.