What is identity theft?

If you think your identity has been stolen, you should contact your bank or credit card company and the police as soon as possible and let them know the situation.
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What is identity theft?

Identity theft is when your personal details are stolen and can take place whether your alive or deceased.

Identity thieves can steal your personal information in a number of ways, including going through your post or rubbish, looking for bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, and tax information.

They could steal personal information from your wallet or purse such as identification, credit or bank cards or obtain your credit report by posing as someone who has a lawful right to the information.

Some individuals may use the internet to acquire the personal information you share on unsecured sites. They may also use phishing emails seeking to obtain your personal information.

Your personal information could even be stolen whilst shopping. In some cases fraudsters may even ‘skim’ your credit card information when you make a purchase.

What is identity fraud?

The first you learn of ID fraud could be when you get a bill or invoice for something you haven’t ordered, or when you have letters from debt collectors for debts that aren’t yours.

Identity fraud can be described as the use of a stolen identity to obtain goods or services by deception.

Fraudsters can use your identity details to:

  • open a bank account
  • obtain credit cards, loans and state benefits
  • order goods in your name
  • take over your existing accounts
  • take out a mobile phone contract
  • obtain genuine documents such as passports and driving licences in your name

Using a stolen identity for any of the above activities is identity fraud, and is a criminal offence.

Avoid identity theft and fraud

Identity theft can happen by taking documents from your rubbish bin or by making contact with you and pretending to be from a legitimate organisation.

There are simple steps you can take to protect yourself against identity fraud.

  • If you receive an unsolicited email or phone call from what appears to be your bank or building society asking for your security details, never reveal your full password, login details or account numbers.
  • A bank will never ask for your PIN or for a whole security number or password either over the phone or via email so never share your PIN with anyone.
  • Create strong passwords for use online, and don't use the same one for every website you login to.
  • Protect your internet connected devices with up to date security software.
  • Don’t leave things like bills lying around for others to look at.
  • Don’t throw out anything containing your name, address or financial details without shredding it first. 
  • If you’re expecting a bank or credit card statement and it doesn’t arrive, tell your bank or credit card company.
  • If you move house, ask Royal Mail to redirect your post for at least a year.
  • Don’t accept invitations from people you don’t know on social media sites, it’s also a good idea to create separate work and personal profiles.
  • Double check that your social media profiles are private so that you are only sharing information with people you know.
  • Don’t post any pictures showing your car number plate – fraudsters could use this to illicitly obtain your address from DVLA records.
  • Take care when using public wi-fi networks and don’t use them to access sensitive apps such as mobile banking.

Golden rule

No matter whether it's a letter, email or a phone call, if it's unsolicited never give anyone your PIN or password. 

Don't do it, always assume it's an attempted scam.

Report identity fraud

If your identity has been stolen, you should contact your bank, credit card company and local police on the non-emergency phone number 101 as soon as possible and let them know the situation.

You can also report the fraud using the Police’s fraud reporting service Action Fraud.

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