Identity theft can result from having one’s financial documents, credit card or even mobile phone stolen. Through this blog post, we will explore the solution to having one’s identity stolen and the preventive measures that a victim of identity fraud can take to secure their personal and financial information.
What To Do If Someone Uses Your Identity?
If someone uses your identity, you must take some immediate action steps, which include the following:
- Report the theft of your document(s) to the organisation that issued them. These may include passports, driving licences, credit cards or chequebooks. If you are not sure of who to contact, you can inform Action Fraud, either through their online tool or by calling them on 0300 123 2040.
- If there is suspicious activity regarding your bank account or credit card, inform your bank, building society and credit card company.
- Inform the police in case there is theft of personal documents or suspicious credit applications. Do take note of your crime reference number when you lodge a complaint with the police.
- Inform CIFAS, the fraud protection service in the UK and apply for protective registration. In this manner, the members of CIFAS will make additional checks to confirm your identity whenever a financial service is applied for using your identity.
- Obtain a copy of your credit report to learn whether a credit account has been set up in your name. This will show you any searches that were carried out by a lender, their date, search details and application. You will also get to know the name and address it was conducted against. Contact a credit reference agency such as Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, ClearScore or Noddle and inform them of the situation.
Identity theft often leads to identity fraud which can be the reason for withdrawal from one’s bank account, misuse of one’s credit or debit cars or even loan applications in one’s name. If such incidents go unchecked, the victim will not only face monetary loss but also a low credit score.
Fraudsters can use another person’s identity for any of the following purposes:
- Opening of a bank account
- Gaining access to an existing bank account
- Taking a bank loan
- Applying for state benefits
- Make purchases
- Obtaining a passport or driving license under a false identity
If someone has been a victim of identity theft due to their credit card being stolen, they will be liable for the first £50 spent on it unless they report it as soon as the incident occurs or comes to their knowledge.
However, if your credit card was used for any of the following types of purchases, you may not have the right to your money back automatically:
- Payment of rental agreements
- Sale of land or building
- Financial services that include insurance and banking
- Purchases through vending machines or auctions
How Can You Prevent Identity Theft?
In order to prevent identity theft, one must be careful about the protection of their financial and personal information. The following steps serve as a general guideline for protecting one’s identity and saving oneself from identity fraud:
- Personal documents should always be kept safe in a locked cabinet where no one else can access them.
- Valuable financial documents such as certificates should be kept safely with the bank.
- Unwanted documents such as bills, receipts, credit or debit card slips, bank statements or even posts should not be discarded and should rather be shredded so that the information contained in them is not readable in any way.
- Personal information such as passwords or pin codes should not be shared with anyone even if they claim to be from one’s bank or the police.
- Unsolicited messages and phone calls that ask for personal information such as passwords, pin codes credit or debit card numbers should not be answered and should be reported as scams in case of suspicious content.
- One should not use the same password for multiple accounts as they are usually easy to guess for someone committing identity theft and can give them access to multiple financial sources.
- Home wifi systems should be protected with a secure password so that access is limited to household members. Simultaneously if you are using a public WIFI, device or laptop, do not use them for personal or financial transactions.
It may also be wise to check and change your passwords and PINs not only on any other credit or debit card but also on email addresses as well especially if you have been using a shared or public laptop or computer.
How Do I Know Someone Is Using My Identity?
There are certain signs that indicate that someone else is using your identity. It is essential that if you face any of the below-listed situations, you must contact the relevant authorities and conduct a security check on your documents and financial transactions as well:
- You have lost or misplaced important documents such as your passport or driving license or they were stolen.
- You stop receiving mail from your bank or utility service provider.
- Transactions that were not carried out by you are included in your bank or credit card statement.
- You apply for benefits but find out that there is already a benefits claim registered in your name.
- Bills or receipts arrive for goods or services that you have not purchased.
- When you apply for financial services such as credit cards or bank loans, your application is refused.
- You receive mail from debt collectors or solicitors even though you have not taken any debt.
While this list gives a general idea of situations to be alert for, your suspicion of being faced with identity theft may stem from different incidents. In such a case, one must inform Action Fraud by using their online reporting tool or calling them on 0300 123 2040.
If someone uses your identity, there will be clear signs such as account withdrawals, purchases or loan applications in your name. In order to make sure that there is no misuse of your identity, one must remain very careful about information concerning their financial transactions and double-check before making a confirmation. At the same time, one must inform the relevant authorities of identity theft so as to avoid having to face the consequences of the actions of another individual.
FAQs: What To Do If Someone Uses Your Identity?
What can I do if someone is using my identity?
Even if you suspect that someone is using your identity, you must inform the concerned authorities depending on the personal information being used such as passport, driving license or bank account. Additionally, you should also inform Action Fraud for an investigation into the matter.
Is identity theft a crime in the UK?
If identity theft leads to the use of personal or financial information causing an incident of identity fraud, it will be considered a criminal offence in the UK.
What is the punishment for identity theft?
Identity theft and the leading fraudulent activities, as a result, can lead to a prison sentence of between two to seven years; depending on the severity of the identity fraud committed.
How can I find out if someone is using my identity?
If there are financial transactions from your bank account or credit card which are not initiated by you, your mail gets missing or you are being denied financial services, there is a chance that someone is using your identity.
How do I report identity theft to the police?
You can report identity theft by making a phone call to Action Fraud, the UK’s cyber crime and fraud reporting centre. Their contact number is 0300 123 2040.