Identity theft

Identity theft involves a fraudster taking and using your personal information without your knowledge and is a growing issue in the UK.

If you are a victim of identity theft you can suffer considerable financial losses, be denied access to credit and other services and spend a large amount of time sorting out the financial mess.

There are lots of things you can do to protect yourself from having your identity stolen:

  • Keep personal and valuable documents in a safe place, preferably locked away
  • If you do lose something like a passport then report it straight away
  • Be careful when you throw away letters and documents which have your name and address and other financial information. It’s better to shred these so they don’t fall into the wrong hands
  • Check your bank statements and credit card statements to make sure all the entries are correct and follow up on any entries that are unknown
  • Use passwords that are not easy to guess and don’t use the same password for everything
  • Never give your password and PINs to another person and, if you must write them down, do so securely and never altogether in one place
  • If you get a phone call where the caller asks for personal details, never provide them. Check the number of the organisation and ring them back if you think the call is genuine
  • Never go along with calls from IT companies claiming to need to log on to your computer to correct a fault – they are usually trying to access your personal information
  • Get a copy of your credit rating on a regular basis and question any abrupt change in your credit score
  • If you move house tell everyone who may write to you there and get your mail redirected for at least a year
  • If you throw away a computer or mobile phone make sure it has no data on it

Here are some of the signs that may indicate that your identity has been stolen:

  • There are items on your bank statement or credit card statement you don't recognise
  • You've received bills for items you haven't ordered
  • You've received letters demanding payment of debts you don't know about
  • Postal items you are expecting have not arrived, indicating your post could be being intercepted
  • You've been burgled or lost important documents such as your passport
  • You've been refused credit
  • Don’t delay – report this to the local police immediately and get a crime reference number
  • Check all of your transaction statements and identify any possible fraudulent entries
  • Change your relevant passwords and PINs
  • Get a credit report and ask the credit reference agency for help in understanding what the issue is and how you can resolve it
  • Contact all the organisations involved and report that your identity has been stolen and that fraudulent transactions are present. Keep a record of all of your calls and actions. If appropriate ask for new cards to be issued or new accounts to be set up
  • Contact Royal Mail to establish if a fraudulent mail redirect has been set up and cancel this
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