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Your identity is one of your most valuable assets. If your identity is stolen, you can lose money and may find it difficult to get loans, credit cards or a mortgage.
Your name, address and date of birth provide enough information to create another ‘you’. An identity thief can use a number of methods to find out your personal information and will then use it to open bank accounts, take out credit cards and apply for state benefits in your name.
What signs should I look out for?
There are a number of signs to look out for that may mean you are or may become a victim of identity theft:
- You have lost or have important documents stolen, such as your passport or driving licence.
- Mail from your bank or utility provider doesn’t arrive.
- Items that you don’t recognise appear on your bank or credit card statement.
- You apply for state benefits, but are told you are already claiming.
- You receive bills or receipts for goods or services you haven’t asked for.
- You are refused financial services, credit cards or a loan, despite having a good credit rating.
- You receive letters in your name from solicitors or debt collectors for debts that aren’t yours.
How do I reduce the risk of identity theft?
- Store any documents carrying personal information – such as your driving licence, passport, bank statements, utility bills or credit card transaction receipts – in a safe and secure place.
- Shred or destroy your old documents so that nothing showing your name, address or other personal details can be taken.
- Monitor your credit report and regularly check your credit card and bank statements for suspicious activity.
- When you move house, contact your bank, credit and store card providers, mobile phone provider, utility providers, TV licensing, your doctor and dentist etc, and give them your new address – you don’t want the new tenants to have access to letters containing your personal information. You can also redirect your mail by contacting Royal Mail.
- Remember, less is more. The less you give away about yourself, the lower the risk of information falling into the wrong hands.
- Think before you buy online – use a secure website which displays the company’s contact details, look for a golden padlock symbol and a clear privacy and returns policy. Check the web address begins with https.
What can I do if I’m a victim of identity theft?
If you think you are a victim identity theft or fraud, act quickly to ensure you are not liable for any financial losses.
- Report all lost or stolen documents, such as passports, driving licences, credit cards and cheque books to the organisation that issued them.
- Inform your bank, building society and credit card company of any unusual transactions on your statement.
- Request a copy of your credit file to check for any suspicious credit applications.
- Report the theft of personal documents and suspicious credit applications to the police and ask for a crime reference number.
- Contact CIFAS (the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service) to apply for protective registration. Once you have registered you should be aware that CIFAS members will carry out extra checks to see when anyone, including you, applies for a financial service, such as a loan, using your address.
CIFAS – The UK’s Fraud Prevention Service
7 – 12 Tavistock Square
You can also get more advice at:
- Action Fraud(England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or Police Scotland (as Action Fraud do not deal with people who live in Scotland).
- Bank Safe Online
- Financial Ombudsman Service
- CardWatchc/o APACS
14 Finsbury Square
To report the theft or loss of post and other important documents:
- Royal Mail
Telephone: 08457 740 740
- Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cyber crime.
Reporting online is quick and easy. The tool will guide you through simple questions to identify what has happened and advisors are available twenty four hours to give you help and advice if you need it.
When reporting online to Action Fraud you will be given the option to register, login to an existing account or continue as a guest.
By registering with Action Fraud you will be able to:
- Save and resume a partially completed report
- Track progress of your report
- Add information to your report
- Call us to discuss your report
- Receive an update by email
If you continue as a guest you will only be able to receive updates by email or post.
You can also report to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm. If you are calling from abroad please call +44 300 123 2040.
If an identity thief steals your Personal Identifiable Information (PII), opens new accounts in your name and never pays, it could ruin your credit history. Not only can this impact your ability to get credit, but it can also hurt your job prospects and increase your insurance premiums.
Check your credit report
If you’ve been a victim of ID fraud, then it’s important to see the full picture. This means getting hold of your credit report with the three main UK credit reference agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).
Once you have this you can see if there are new searches or accounts you did not apply for. You can then contact the lenders directly or use our support team to help you query all the relevant entries.
Use a Credit Reference Agencies Victim of Fraud support team
Once you’ve checked your report just contact the agency and they can raise queries directly with the lenders on your behalf.
They have specialist ID fraud teams available to support you clearing up your credit report. This can include:
- Disputing all fraudulent information with lenders
- Discussing additional security options such as Cifas or a credit report password
- Future report check-ins by our fraud team
Once your information has been disputed and confirmed as fraudulent, the lender will remove this from your report.
Contact lenders if you’ve received any bills, statements or demand notices
If you’ve received any suspicious mail through the door like bills or statements, then it can be a good idea to contact that specific lender directly to let them know you didn’t open the account. They can begin their investigation at this stage and if you haven’t checked your credit report yet then this is the time to do so.
Add a Notice of Correction password to your report
If you’ve recently been a victim of ID fraud, or are at a high risk, then adding a notice of correction password to your report might be a good idea.
We would usually only recommend this if you’ve been a victim or suffered a house burglary or robbery where important identification documents may have been stolen.
Cifas is a not-for-profit fraud prevention membership organisation. They are the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, managing the largest database of instances of fraudulent conduct in the country. Their members are organisations from all sectors, sharing their data across those sectors to reduce instances of fraud and financial crime.
Throughout the UK, they help protect individuals and organisations from the growing and increasingly sophisticated threat of fraud and financial crime. Since 1988, Cifas has helped its members and customers protect themselves from billions of pounds worth of fraud losses.
They offer a service called protective registration
How registration protects you
Once you have Protective Registration, CIFAS place a flag alongside your name and personal details in a secure National Fraud Database. Companies and organisations who are signed up as members of the database will see you’re at risk and take extra steps to protect you, preventing fraudsters from using your details to apply for products and services.
Protective Registration offers peace of mind and a reduction in the risk of becoming a victim of fraud. As such, when you apply for financial products and services, the process may take slightly longer than before, as extra checks will be made on applications with your details. Companies who are signed up to our database may also get in touch with you to make those checks before processing your application.