Identity thieves are out in force and finding cunning new ways to steal your personal information.
Armed with only a few pieces of data, these crooks will go on to open new accounts or apply for credit in your name. If they succeed in doing this, they could turn your whole life upside-down.
Recovering your identity after it’s been stolen can be stressful. The key is to take action the moment you think you have fallen victim. That way, you can get help to get things resolved as soon as possible.
Experian offers support to victims of identity fraud. Sign up for a no obligation, free trial to access this service and your credit report for 30 days*.
1. Ring your bank or card issuer
If you think fraudsters have targeted your debit or credit cards or bank account, you should speak to your bank right away.
Could scammers be listening in on calls to your bank?
2. Speak to your phone company
Similarly, if you see unexpected calls on your mobile phone bill, you should contact your provider immediately, highlighting the charges that relate to calls you didn’t make.
Avoid the 0845 missed call mobile phone scam
3. Talk to debt collecting firms
If you receive a letter from a debt collector or bailiff, this could mean someone has already been borrowing money in your name.
If you are positive you do not owe money to the firm in question, you should speak to the debt collection agency immediately to clarify the situation.
Find out more about the scams used to steal your identity
4. Do not ignore a court summons
If you receive a court summons for non-payment of a bill in your name, you should contact the company or court straight away to explain what you think has happened.
If you don’t take action right away, it could become very difficult to resolve the issue.
Not sure if you have been a victim of identity theft? Read our guide to the warning signs.
5. Contact the police
As a matter of priority, you need to report suspected fraud to the police.
You can do this at ActionFraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. Action Fraud also offers support for victims, as well as tips on prevention.
6. Check your credit report
If you fear criminals have stolen your personal information, you should check your credit report for signs of unusual activity.
This will help you discover if a criminal has tried to apply for credit in your name and help you take steps to resolve the fraud before you suffer financial loss.
You can request a copy of your credit report from one of the ratings agencies – Experian, Equifax or CallCredit; a basic report costs just £2.
The agencies also offer monthly subscriptions services that monitor your credit report and alert you to any significant changes.
Get a free 30-day trial of Experian's service*
7. Seek help and support
Make sure you seek out all the help you can. Experian, for example, runs a Victims of Fraud service with dedicated caseworkers on hand to give tailored advice and support.
8. Put yourself on the Cifas Protective Register
If you have been a victim of fraud, you can put your details on the Cifas Protective Register.
This register alerts financial firms to the fact your details may be at risk from criminals, and warns organisations to make additional security checks when applications for credit are made.
9. Take precautions
Having fallen victim to ID theft, it’s important to take all the precautions you can to avoid this happening again. The key is to be vigilant about protecting your personal information.
Tips to avoid falling victim:
- Use strong, unique passwords with a mixture of upper and lower-case letters for each website you use .
- Never tell anyone else your pin numbers or passwords, and change them regularly.
- Be cautious at all times when you are asked to share any information online. Don’t click on links asking you to confirm your personal details.
- Limit the amount of personal information you give away on social network websites. Set your privacy settings to high.
- Disable ‘auto-fill’ settings on all your devices so that you’re only sharing information consciously.
- Ensure you have up-to-date security software on your computer or smartphone.
- Shred all financial documents before binning them.
- Remember to notify service providers of your new address when you move home.
- Don’t leave post lying around. If you live in a large block of flats, request a secure letterbox.
Monitoring your credit report for unusual activity can help alert you to identity fraud. Check yours now with a free, no obligation Experian trial*.
*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.