Are you at risk of identity fraud?

Identity theft risks

Do you know what puts you at risk of identity fraud?

Carrying out everyday tasks such as shopping and personal banking has become easier and quicker than ever before. Unfortunately, the more you use payment cards, mobile wallets and online technology, the more you risk criminals getting hold of your personal details.

Identity theft and fraud are growing problems in the UK. According to Cifas, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, there have been more than 160,000 confirmed cases of identity fraud in the UK in 2015 alone¹. And Experian’s Victims of Fraud service has seen the number of victims of fraud grow 63% between 2010 and 2015².

How can criminals get hold of your information?

Criminals want to get as many of your personal details as possible so they can impersonate you and spend your hard-earned money. Once they have that information, they can apply for credit in your name and run up debts without you knowing.

They look for your full name, date of birth, current address and national insurance number, and the passwords and PINs to your bank accounts. Vital photographic ID such as your driving licence or passport could also be stolen and changed by a criminal to claim that he or she is actually you.

There’s nothing high-tech about this as most criminals find this information through the post. This could be your bank statement or salary slip being delivered to your previous address, or simply going astray.

That said, as technology becomes more prevalent, online theft is being more widely used with fraudsters setting up fake websites to get you to type in your digital banking password, which then gives them access to your accounts. So-called ‘phishing’ emails pretending to be from your bank can also lead to your details being stolen.

Social networking sites such as Facebook can also be accessed by fraudsters who ‘mine’ your postings for information.

Criminals also use the telephone – calling you at home or on your mobile, pretending to be a bank or a credit card firm and asking you to confirm your account details.

When are you at risk?

Everybody is at risk but some will be easier prey than others. Moving home, even if it’s only a couple of streets away, can leave you exposed to bank or credit card statements continuing to be delivered to your old address.

Often the first time you notice that you’ve been a victim of identity theft will be when you try to apply for credit and are turned down because of your level of debts. Worryingly, it takes on average 300 days for an individual to find out they’ve been a victim of fraud³.

Another red flag could be a series of unusual transactions on your credit card, or a letter demanding payment for an account you didn’t set up.

What can you do?

If you think you could be a victim of identity theft or fraud, contact Action Fraud – the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre at www.actionfraud.police.uk. Then inform a credit reference agency, such as Experian, as they hold your credit report information.

If you do contact us, we can tell you what to do and help you set the record straight:

  • We can add security features to your credit report to help obstruct the fraudster and prevent him or her from running up more debts in your name.
  • We can put a Notice of Correction (NOC) on your report – this is a brief note on your report you could use to explain to lenders that you have been the victim of identity fraud.
  • You can also register for the Cifas Protective Registration Service, which will put a warning on your report alerting lenders to the fraud and that they may need to carry out additional checks.
  • You should also contact your lenders to explain what’s happened. Be prepared to provide proof of a stolen identity, such as statements showing you do not live at the address given for the fake accounts.

Prevention is better than cure

The best way to beat the fraudsters is to protect your precious information.

  • Take precautions such as redirecting your mail when you move address, shredding sensitive documents and immediately reporting the theft of a credit or debit card.
  • Get an individual and secure mailbox if you live in shared accommodation.
  • Registering to vote at your current address can help lenders check your residential status and deter fraud against you.

As far as online safety is concerned, there are simple rules to follow, such as:

  • Don’t open or respond to emails when you aren’t sure who they’re from.
  • Don’t enter your details on a website if you think something looks wrong. And be careful about what information you share on social networks.
  • And never part with personal information to unknown voices on the phone. Only by being as careful as you can will you reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity fraud.

¹Source: CIFAS,

²Statistics provided by Experian Victims of Fraud team, March 2016

³Statistics provided by Experian Victims of Fraud team, March 2016

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