Identity theft is when someone steals your personal details. If you think you may have been the victim of identity theft, it is important to act quickly.
This is because a criminal may be intending to use your details to commit fraud, such as taking out a loan in your name. If this happens, you could find it difficult obtain a loan, if you need one. Criminals can also use your personal details to open up bank accounts, sign up for a mobile phone contract and even to acquire a credit card.
How will I know that I am a victim of identity theft?
Unfortunately, you may only discover that identity theft has taken place, once your details have been used to commit identity fraud and you receive letters in the post for bank accounts you did not open or mobile phone contracts you had no idea about.
If you are receiving these types of letters, or post that you are expecting is not arriving, these may be signs that someone has stolen your identity.
Alternatively, you may be refused a loan or a credit card, even though you have a good credit rating.
If you have your wallet or passport stolen, it may be safe to assume that someone could have enough information about you to use your details to commit identity fraud. Act accordingly. You should report everything that has been stolen to the relevant organisations, as well as to the police.
Even if no theft has taken place and you simply lose your cards or passport, it is equally important to report this.
Take action immediately
It is vital to act quickly.
If you receive anything unusual in the post, such as a bill for something you did not order, you should call the card company that the purchase was made on and inform them straight away.
Many people have access to their bank or building society’s mobile phone app. This is a great way to keep a close eye on your finances.
If you see any unusual activity, call your bank or credit card company immediately.
If you are concerned that you are the victim of identity theft, you can also register your details with CIFAS. This means that companies signed up to CIFAS’ National Fraud Database, should see that you are in the database and will carry out extra checks if a financial product is applied for in your name. As such, it can take a little longer for any financial product or service you have applied for to be approved or declined. However, CIFAS do say that this ‘Protective Registration’ does reduce the risk of you becoming a victim of fraud.
How do I know if someone is trying to take out credit in my name?
You can check to see if any credit has been applied for in your name, by looking at a copy of your credit report, through companies such as Experian.
If you see any activity on your credit report that you do not recognise, you should report this to the police as soon as possible.
How do I ensure that I am not a victim of identity theft again?
Unfortunately, there is no way to make absolutely sure that you are not a victim of identity theft in the future.
However, there are some things that you can do to help.
Keep any personal documents locked away in a safe place, so they are harder for criminals to find.
If you need to throw away any bank statements or other documents with your details on, ensure that you shred them before putting them in the recycling.
It is also a good idea to keep a close eye on your bank account and credit cards. That way, if someone is using your details to order goods or services, you can take action straight away to prevent them using your card again.
When moving house, it is vital to redirect all of your post to your new property. Otherwise, your details could fall into the wrong hands.
Finally, be mindful of what you post on social media. For example, a profile photo on Facebook of you having a drink, with your credit card on the table, could be all a criminal needs to take out a loan or buy a phone in your name.