The thought of someone stealing your identity is bad enough, so, when it actually happens, it can be distressing and unsettling. But you’re not alone. In 2018, fraud prevention agency Cifas recorded nearly 190,000 cases of identity fraud – when criminals use stolen personal information for their own benefit. If it does happen, you should try to act swiftly. So, here’s how to report identity theft.
Reporting identity theft – who needs to know?
If you suspect fraudulent activity, check whether you’re a victim of identity theft. You’ll need to consider what you think has been compromised and contact the relevant organisation(s). Depending on what they say, you may need to contact the police. For example:
- Bank, debit cards or chequebook – contact your bank first. It’ll investigate and report the incident to the police, who will then contact you if there’s a need for a follow-up.
- Passport – you can report a lost or stolen passport online at GOV.UK/report a stolen passport.
- Driving licence – you can report a lost or stolen licence online at GOV.UK/replace a driving licence. GOV.UK also advises that you should tell the police.
- Credit cards and store cards – contact the card issuer directly.
- Stolen post – if you think documents, bank or credit cards have been stolen, contact Royal Mail by calling its customer helpline: 08457 740 740. A dedicated investigation team will be able to help.
It’s also worthwhile reporting identity theft to Action Fraud, which collates information about fraud and cybercrime.
For added long-term security, think about notifying Cifas too. You can apply for something called protective registration, which means that organisations registered with Cifas will carry out additional security checks when someone using your details applies for a financial product. It’s important to point out, however, that the checks will apply to you as well.
Checking your credit report after identity theft
As well as notifying the appropriate organisation, it’s a good idea to get hold of a copy of your credit report from a credit reference agency (CRA). You can then check this for any unusual or unaccountable activity.
The three main CRAs in the UK are:
The report should show you what credit has been applied for using your name, making it a very handy one-stop point of reference. If you do spot any fraudulent activity, the CRA will also contact the lenders affected.
All the CRAs work together and also coordinate with banks. This ensures that any fraudulent credit applications are cancelled, so that your credit history is not affected.
Dealing with the fallout of identity theft
Identity theft isn’t as headline grabbing as violent crime, but nevertheless it’s still a crime. The insidious nature of identity theft can have a considerable impact on your emotional wellbeing, as it’s often a crime that goes undetected for some time.
As well as dealing with the immediate financial loss, which can affect income and access to funds, it’s perfectly natural to feel to feel overwhelmed, jittery and even angry at being a victim of identity theft.
If you do need help, you can contact the charity Victim Support, which offers guidance and advice on all types of crime, including cybercrime and fraud.
Keeping your identity safe
Most of us understand what we need to do to keep our identities safe. Of course, in reality, it can be hard – especially if you’re busy juggling everyday life admin. So, for good measure, here are some simple tips that can help minimise the risk of identity theft:
- Shred documents containing personal information if you can. Your name, date of birth and address are all a fraudster needs to pretend to be you.
- Keep sensitive documents as safe as possible. This includes your passport, driving licence, bills and bank statements.
- Think carefully about the information you share. Social media platforms make a good hunting ground for criminals, so try to be mindful of what you post.
- Update your contacts. If you move home, it’s a good idea to communicate this to contacts who hold your personal information, for example banks, credit card issuers and even your doctor and dentist. You could also set up a mail redirect with Royal Mail to ensure your post finds its way to your new home.
- Shop securely. If you shop online, it’s worth ensuring the site is secure by checking for the https prefix in the address bar or for the padlock symbol.
Keep your money and your identity safe. Check out these 5 common loan scams and what 3 things you can do to protect yourself from fraud.
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