How at risk is your identity?
It’s a shock to discover that your identity has been stolen and used to borrow money — and run up debts — in your name. Perhaps you’ve received a letter demanding payment for an account you didn’t set up, your credit card statement showed a series of unfamiliar transactions or a lender turned you down on the grounds that you haven’t been paying your bills.
If you don’t check your credit report regularly for suspicious transactions, research by Experian’s Victims of Fraud team shows that it takes an average of around 500 days to discover a stolen identity crime – and a further 300 hours to set the record straight. In the meantime, you could find it impossible to borrow what you need because your credit status has been trashed by criminals.
Here’s what to do if you suspect you might be one of the unlucky ones.
Conduct a Stolen Identity Check
This is your personal credit history and details the loans, cards, mortgages and other credit accounts in your name, along with your repayment record. If you spot anything you did not apply for, or see an outstanding balance far higher than you can explain, someone is probably using your identity to commit identity fraud. As part of the CreditExpert membership you get unlimited access to your Experian credit report.
Report Your Stolen Identity Suspicions
Tell the police if you think your identity has been stolen and used fraudulently and get a crime number or incident number. You should also tell the credit reference agency that holds your credit report — Experian is the UK’s largest.
Get Stolen Identity Help from Experian
The Victims of Fraud service will help you to investigate and put matters right. They can tell you what to do and help you to set the record straight. If appropriate, they can also add security features to your credit report to obstruct the fraudster and prevent him or her from running up more debts in your name.
Contact the Organisations who have been Duped
Your credit report contains a list of all the lenders who have given you credit, along with their contact details. Get in touch with them and explain what happened. Be prepared to provide proof of a stolen identity; for example, that you could not have been in the place where credit card transactions occurred or that you do not live at the address given for a fake account.
Tell the Post Office
The most common way of stealing an identity in the UK is intercepting your post, so unless you’ve already identified the cause of your problems you should contact the Post Office and ask them to investigate. In the meantime, make sure your mail isn’t left where anyone else can take it.
Your identity is a precious commodity, so take every precaution to ensure that it isn’t abused or stolen again. For example, you should shred sensitive documents before throwing them away and always report the theft of items such as credit cards, passports and driving licences.
Experian CreditExpert provides more than just your credit report, including: