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Eight ways to tell you’ve been a victim of identity theft

Esther Shaw / 05 June 2015 ( 01 November 2016 )

It isn't always obvious if you've been a victim of identity theft. We share eight warning signs that your personal information may have been stolen.

Person checking bank statement for unusual activity
Check for unusual withdrawals and payments on your bank statements

Hundreds of people fall victim to identity-related fraud every day, yet it can often take weeks or months to discover it has happened.

Criminals are using increasingly sophisticated methods to grab our personal information, meaning it is now much harder to realise you’ve been duped.

This means a fraudster can potentially have your details for a very long time without you knowing.

With this in mind, it’s important to familiarise yourself with some of the warning signs that should set the alarm bells ringing.

1. You notice unauthorised transactions on your bank statement

If you catch sight of any unusual activity on your bank statement, don't ignore it and hope it will go away - it could be a sign that you have been attacked by a conman. 

You also need to be on your guard if your bank card is declined for no apparent reason. Fraudsters will usually try and steal money from your account, or take it over completely.

How to combat card fraud

2. You are refused credit but have no unpaid debts

Once a criminal has got hold of your personal data, they may try to apply for large amounts of credit in your name. 

If you apply for a personal loan or credit card and get declined when you weren’t expecting to, this could mean you’ve fallen victim to identity theft.

Read about the scams criminals use to steal your identity

3. Unexpected change in your credit report

If you request a copy of your credit report from an agency, such as Experian, Equifax or CallCredit and find an unexpected change, this could be a warning sign that you have become a victim of identity fraud, as it may well mean that someone has falsely applied for credit in your name.

Check your credit report now with a free 30-day trial*

4. Unexpected call charges appear on your mobile phone bill

If mysterious charges start appearing on your phone bill, this could be a sign of account takeover. 

This is where a criminal contacts your mobile phone operator claiming to be you. 

The fraudster will then take control of your account and make unauthorised transactions, such as adding new devices or SIM cards in your name.

Avoid the 0845 missed call mobile phone scam

5. You receive a shiny new laptop or phone that you didn’t order

This may happen if a criminal has bought something in your name with the intention of intercepting the delivery. If they fail to do so, the goods could arrive on your doorstep. This should set the alarm bells ringing.

What is the parcel delivery scam?

6. You receive unexpected post

If you start receiving post that in no way relates to you – such as glossy car magazines when you don’t own a car – this could be an indication that something suspect is going on, and that a car has been purchased in your name. You need to check out what is going on.

Post that might signify a scam

7. You get unexpected emails

If you get messages from sites or services you know you’ve not registered for, you should treat these as suspicious. 

It could be a sign of hackers seeking to establish your identity elsewhere, and then using it to verify other accounts.

Signs an email may be a scam

8. You are contacted by the debt collector or bailiff

If you get a letter or a call from a debt collection company looking to recover a debt in your name, you may well have become a victim of fraud. 

Similarly, if you receive a court summons for non-payment of an unfamiliar bill, you are likely to have fallen victim.

Read about the seven simple steps you can take to protect yourself against identity fraud

Take action immediately

If you suspect you have been attacked by identity thieves, you need to take action right away.

Read our guide to reclaiming your identity if you become a victim

Experian offers a service to help you avoid identity theft and repair the damage if you become a victim. Use our free 30-day trial to try out the service and access your credit report for 30 days*.

Use our free Equity Release calculator.

*A monthly fee of £14.99 applies after your 30-day trial – you can cancel at any time during your trial with no charge. New customers only.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.