What’s identity theft?

Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information or possessions so they can use your identity.

Identity fraud is when they use your identity for their own financial gain – which ultimately costs you dearly.

Often these crimes remain undetected for some time, you may not even realise your information’s been stolen until a bill or welcome letter arrives for something you didn’t buy or sign up for, or you find it difficult to take out a credit card or mobile phone contract.

5 common ways fraudsters can steal your identity

1. Common theft

You could have your personal possessions stolen giving them access to different forms of your ID.

2. Cold-calling (also known as Vishing)

Fraudsters call you pretending to be a genuine business and mislead you into giving away personal and financial information. They will attempt to make the call appear convincing by faking background noises so you believe it’s a call centre environment.

3. Hacking

Software’s used to hack into your computer, or information’s taken from your smartphone.

4. Phishing

Fraudsters send an email that appears to be from a trusted company, getting you to click a link or download an attachment which would deliver a virus to your computer, allowing them to access your details.

5. Data breach

There have been a number of high profile data breaches in recent years where customer information’s been stolen from a service provider.

How identity theft could affect you

If fraudsters start using your identity it can look like you’re making irresponsible decisions and not handling your finances well. Ultimately giving lenders a bad impression of you, and affecting their decision around whether you’d be someone they’d choose to lend to in the future. This will be reflected on your credit report and can impact your chances of getting credit, renting property, and accessing certain services in the future.

You’ll need to act quickly if you think you’ve been affected – read more about what do if you’re a victim of fraud.

Protect yourself before it happens

One of the best things you can do is understand the early warning signs so you’re ready to stop fraudsters and develop good habits that can protect you. Learn more about protecting your identity against fraud.

With a CreditExpert or ID Plus subscription, you can also lock your Experian Credit Report to help protect yourself from fraudsters applying for credit in your name.