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Preventing identity fraud and fraud advice

  • Identity fraud is the criminal use of a stolen identity to obtain goods or services by deception. This usually involves the use of stolen or forged identity documents, such as a passport or driving licence.
  • Identity theft is the misuse of the identity (such as name, date of birth, current address or previous addresses) of another person, without their knowledge or consent. These identity details are then used to obtain goods and services in that person’s name.

Identity fraud is a problem that can affect anyone. However, simple precautions can help you protect yourself. Follow these tips to help ensure you don’t become a victim of identity theft.

  • Register to vote — This not only helps improve your credit profile, it helps stop identity fraud.

    Lenders will use the address details you provide to check your identity, and being on the electoral register provides evidence you’re living at the address you provided. A credit application which has a different address to the one on the electoral register may indicate it’s fraudulent.

  • Be safe on social networking — The danger of social networking is giving away far too much personal information, leaving ourselves vulnerable to identity theft. Criminals can use even the most basic information to steal your identity, so be careful what you share publicly online.

    Keep your full name, date of birth and address off your social media accounts and don’t share anything you use as a password, such as your dog’s name or wedding anniversary. Additionally, don’t share information, such as being on holiday or where your mail is left when you’re out.

  • Report missing or stolen documents — It goes without saying you should report any missing or stolen documents as soon as possible. If these documents fall into the wrong hands, you could become a victim of ID theft, so make sure you notify the relevant organisations as soon as you realise your documents are missing. That way if a criminal spends any money in your name, there’ll be a record it wasn’t you.
  • Shred documents containing personal information — Don’t give thieves a helping hand by leaving personal information lying around. Shred or destroy any documents containing personal information. This means financial statements but also less obvious documents like catalogues containing your name, address and account number. This includes never writing down your PIN or password, as this could easily fall into the wrong hands.
  • Check for suspicious transactions — One of the best methods of identity theft protection is to regularly check your credit report for suspicious activity. You should also check your bank and credit card statements to ensure all transactions were made by you.
  • Check your credit report regularly — You should regularly check your credit report to look out for anything unusual. This could be a sign your identity has been stolen and is being used to apply for credit.

    For an administration fee of £20.00, Cifas — the UK's fraud prevention service — can place a 'Protective Registration' warning on your credit file. This will tell lenders you think your personal information is at risk of being used fraudulently. When they receive an application with your details, they'll make more checks to ensure the person applying is you and not a fraudster. It may mean that any applications you make are delayed while there's further verification of your I.D. — but it's better to be safe than sorry.

You should contact your lenders immediately if you suspect you're a victim of identity theft. They can stop further spending and start a fraud investigation. When they confirm the fraud, they'll ask TransUnion to remove the details related to this from your file. In this way, the activities of the fraudster won’t affect the likelihood of you getting credit in the future.

Anyone can fall victim to identity theft or fraud. Some warning signs that suggest you might be a victim and a fraudster is using your details to obtain goods or services in your name include:

  • Your bank or credit card statements don’t arrive, or you notice some of your mail appears to be missing
  • Your statements include charges for items you didn’t purchase or order
  • A debt collection agency contacts you about money owed on goods you didn’t order or on an account you didn’t open
  • You receive a letter or phone call telling you you’ve been accepted or declined for accounts you never applied for

Checking your credit report regularly will also help you to spot any unusual activity.

I’ve been a victim of identity fraud recently and informed the creditors, but can additional security checks be put in place to make it harder so it doesn’t happen again?

You can place a 'Protective Registration' warning on your credit file. This tells lenders you think your personal information is at risk of being used fraudulently. You can find out more about CIFAS and the services they offer at