Once online identity fraudsters have enough of your personal details, they can apply for credit in your name and run up debts without you knowing.
The number of victims of fraud has increased by 63% over the last 5 years, based on cases dealt with by the Experian Victims of Fraud team. In fact, 7% people of UK adults say their personal details have been used to commit fraud.*
What you can do if you suspect identity fraud
A first step is to contact Action Fraud – the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre, then inform a credit reference agency, such as Experian, as they hold your credit report.
If you are concerned that one or other of your online accounts has been compromised, then it is worth changing your password(s) to a new one as soon as you are able, and try not to use the same passwords for different accounts, especially those with financial information.
Experian CreditExpert can help you protect your personal information online – more information here. We regularly monitor your credit report for certain changes which could indicate fraudulent activity, like new accounts being opened, and if we spot any of these changes we’ll send you a text or email alert to let you know – so you’d be able to see anything you didn’t recognise.
- We also monitor your personal details for you across the web – banking, passport and more- and alert you if we find possible misuse.
- We can help you 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.
What else could you do to help prevent it happening?
– Check your social media privacy settings and don’t give away too much personal information
– Try not to write down or list PINs or passwords, in emails too
– Keep an eye on post you’re expecting, and redirect post if you move home
– When shopping online, it’s best to use websites that you know and trust.
– Always look for a security padlock icon in the top left hand corner of a page before you register financial or personal information on a website.
– And if an online deal sounds too good to be true – it quite probably is.
What are the fraudsters doing?
Your full name, date of birth, current address and national insurance number, and the passwords and PINs to your bank accounts are among the things they are hoping to get hold of. Some methods they may try include:
- 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
- ‘Mining’ your postings on social networking sites such as Facebook for information
- Calling you and pretending to be a bank or a credit card firm, and asking you to confirm your account details.
- Scanning the ‘dark web’ for details of lost or stolen cards
How might you suspect identity fraud?
Often the first time you notice that you’ve been a victim of identity fraud will be when you try to apply for credit and are turned down because of your level of debts. Other red flags can be:
- Charges you don’t recognise appear on your statements
- You receive calls or letters from collection agencies
- Bills arrive from companies you haven’t dealt with
- Your credit report contains accounts that you didn’t open, or applications for credit that you haven’t made.
*based on a survey of 2008 people completed by ComRes on behalf of Experian between 15th and 17th January 2016. Data weighted to be representative of all adults in Great Britain aged18+’
(original post 15 July, 2015 – updated Sep 2016)