If you have been a victim of identity theft then you will be feeling angry, confused and upset but there are some key things you need to do if your personal details have been compromised.
A friend recently discovered his identity had been used to open a bank account. Unfortunately for him, the bank did not deal with the problem promptly and it has affected his credit score.
Identity fraud is when someone steals your personal details for financial gain. Fraudsters will apply for bank accounts, credit cards, loans, documents and other services but the bills go to you.
The first time you notice something is wrong is when you get a letter from a bank, not your bank, detailing a new account request. Most banks will have security checks in place to stop this happening but occasionally Banks make mistakes and an account is opened fraudulently.
What fraudsters do with your personal details
Here are some of the thing’s fraudsters will do once they have your personal details:
- Open Bank Accounts
- Apply for Credit Cards
- Apply for State Benefits
- Apply for loans
- Buy products and services online
- Take out mobile phone contracts
- Take over your own personal account
- Apply for passports and driving licenses
You can see from the list above that the damage a fraudster could cause could be catastrophic.
How do people steal identities?
There are a number of ways fraudsters gain access to your personal information, remember they need your date of birth:
- Documents with your details on can be found just going through your rubbish, invest in a shredder.
- Do not give anyone your personal details over the telephone, even if these say they are from your bank.
- Get into the habit of checking bank and credit card statements every month.
- Do not leave bills lying around for visitors to see.
- If you are moving house always get the post redirected for at least 1 year.
- Request an alert from any of the credit reference companies.
- Check your credit score 2 – 3 months after moving house.
What you should do if you think your identity has been stolen
Here a list of actions to take once you know something is very wrong. Immediate action is required if you spot irregularities on your statements or letters from unknown banks.
1. Be well informed about identify theft
Keep up to date with all the latest information on financial crime so you do not get caught unawares. Prevention is better than damage limitation.
Buy a shredder and make sure you do not allow documents to get into the wrong hands.
2. Act swiftly
As soon as you notice something of concern call the bank in question. It might not be your Bank but let them know so they can investigate quickly.
Every bank has processes in place to handle fraudulent enquiries and have the tools and knowledge to limit the damage.
3. Police Investigations
Your Bank will report fraudulent activity to the Police as your fraud maybe part of a much larger nationwide operation so they will need the evidence to prosecute. However, it maybe worth picking up the phone to inform your local Police unit so they are aware that potential fraudsters are in the area to be alert.
If your identity was stolen from your bin, it could potentially be a much bigger problem.
4. Report theft to all relevant organisations
If the fraudster has your personal details, they can apply for passports and driving licenses etc so it is a good idea to let them know what’s happened so they don’t issue fraudulent documents.
Make a list of the organisations you use and alert them.
5. Contact Action Fraud
Report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
Action Fraud are the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre. They may have some steps to take and it is good for them to log all fraud so they can check patterns across the country.
6. Contact Royal Mail
It might be worth contacting Royal Mail as they too have an investigations team that look into these matters. They will check if your mail has been redirected.
You can call them on 08457 740 740.
7. Obtain a copy of your credit report
The credit report will show what companies are checking your details and when. There are a number of companies where you can request a credit report: Experian, Noddle, ClearScore, TransUnion, Equifax.
Look through the report and contact the companies on there you do not recognise or companies checking your details.
8. Alert Credit Reference Agencies
The Credit Reference Agencies will contact the lenders where fraudulent applications have taken place to restore your credit score to its original state.
9. Document everything
Keep a record of everything you do i.e. every letter your write, every email you send and every personal you speak to (get their name). This is a very serious matter but if well documented it will help your case and if this is a Police matter they may need this information.
10. Add a notice of correction
A Notice of correction is a short statement you can add to items on your credit report. It is usually about 200 words. Lenders have a legal obligation to read the Notice of Correction. This is a way to inform people that you have had an issue that is in the process of being resolved.
What to do next
Let’s not let this happen again. Here is what you do to keep your personal details safe:
- Do not respond to cold calls or cold emails
- Remove all personal details from social media
- Check your credit report
- Manage your emails – delete all unwanted emails in your mailbox
- Secure home wi-fi
- Be careful when using public wi-fi
- Be very careful with your passwords, I change my passwords frequently.
How to make a complaint
If you want to make a complaint or feel compensation is due then there are three stages that need to be followed:
- Contact firm directly to resolve – they must respond within 8 weeks (payment service providers have 15 days) 35 days to resolve from day of complaint.
- You must have a final response or the time has lapsed to take it to the Financial Ombudsman
- Contact Financial Ombudsman
- Take the Matter to Court
Different fraud controls for different banks
Reducing fraud is a priority for the FCA but the Banks have their own digital security policies and procedures. Consumers have a choice as to where they put their money so check out the list of banks and their approach to fraud prevention.
Identify Fraud is a national problem, as people get more desperate crime, will increase and the crime is no longer house burglaries.
Your identify theft could be one of thousands linked to a specific organised crime gang so take this to the Police.
Once you know this has happened check your credit report and contact all those companies that have requested information to inform them and get any credit score against you removed.
It will take time and effort to sort it out so ask for some help if you need it.
Sources of help and support