Check your credit reports
If you discover that an account has been fraudulently opened in your name, it’s a good idea to check your credit report.
This will document all applications and accounts in your name, so go through it to check if there is any more suspicious activity on there.
Most credit agencies offer you access for free.
Contact the banks and building societies
If you spot any dodgy looking accounts that have been opened in your name, contact the bank or building society concerned immediately.
Also check your existing accounts for any suspicious activity. Be sure to change your passwords immediately. If you have lost money as a result of ID theft, most will refund you, so long as you weren't negligent in some way.
Speak to the police
You should also report any suspected identity theft to the police and/or Action Fraud, which is the UK’s national fraud reporting centre. Make sure you get a crime reference number of some form of documentation to record the incident.
If you report the fraud to Action Fraud, you will be given the option of having your details passed on to Victim Support, a national charity to help those affected by crime.
Some firms have specialist departments set up to help victims.
For example, Experian offers a Victims of Fraud service, which has a team of dedicated fraud resolution experts who can look into each case, liaise with the lenders involved and even add further security features to the credit report, to try to prevent any future abuse of your personal details.
Organisations across the country can exchange information about all sorts of fraud matters, from dodgy applications for credit to existing accounts or claims that have been accessed in a fraudulent matter thanks to an organisation called CIFAS.
It can also be used to help innocent victims of fraud from being abused again.
If you have already had your identity stolen in the past, it’s a good idea to register your details with CIFAS’ Protective Registration Service.
This ensures that any time an account or service is applied for in your name, extra checks will be carried out to ensure it really is you making the application.
This service costs £25 a year, and it won’t hurt your credit record. It will simply ensure firms that are members of CIFAS are more vigilant about checking the application is not being made fraudulently.
Prevention is better than cure
Dealing with identity theft is both enormously stressful and incredibly time-consuming. So take steps to protect your identity in the first place.
There are lots of things you can do:
- Don’t ever divulge personal information in response to an email, text, letter or phone call unless you are absolutely certain it is from a genuine source. The nation’s banks have published a list of the things they will never ask of you, but a fraudster might.;
- Destroy receipts with your card details on and any post with your name and address on;
- Ensure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall installed;
- When shopping online, you’ll be given the option of signing up for Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code, depending on the card you’re using. These add extra layers of security to online transactions;
- Go through your bank statements regularly, to see if there are any questionable transactions;
- When you move house, ensure that you contact everyone from your bank and mobile phone provider to your doctor and dentist to give them your new address. You can also redirect your mail using Royal Mail. This ensures the new owners do not have access to your personal information.