What is it?
Identity theft is when your personal information is stolen and used to open bank accounts apply for plastic cards and loans or for government benefits and documents such as passports, and driving licences in your name.
Criminals can steal your identity in a number of ways, for example finding your credit card or bank statements in your rubbish or stealing your driving licence, cheque book or bank cards. They can use personal details such as your name, date of birth, current and previous addresses and much more to commit identity theft.
Stealing your mail is another way criminals can access your personal information to commit identity theft. One way they do this is by setting up a mail redirection for your address without you knowing.
Social media can also be used by criminals to access your personal information and build picture of your identity to commit fraud.
Becoming a victim of this type of fraud can mean you will find it difficult to obtain loans, credit cards or mortgages in future.
How to spot Identity theft
- Transactions appear on your bank statement that you don’t recognise
- You receive letters about loans, debt or plastic cards you didn’t apply for
- You’re told you’re already claiming government benefits when you apply
- You receive bills, invoices or receipts addressed to you for goods or services you haven’t asked for
- A mobile phone contract has been set up in your name without your knowledge
Example of identity theft
Larry* applied for a mortgage which was declined due to a poor credit history. He had consistently paid his credit card bills and built up his credit score so was unsure why this was the case.
He also started receiving letters from a debt collector for outstanding payments on a mobile phone contract.
When Larry checked his credit report, he discovered numerous entries that he didn’t recognise. He contacted the organisations relating to the entries to check what they were for and raised disputes.
What Larry didn’t realise was that criminals had obtained personal information from his social media profile, including his home address, his workplace and other personal information. This was used to target him with a scam email (also known as phishing) as a result of which he had provided the criminal with information about his financial details.
Numerous accounts for loans and mobile phone contracts had been opened in Larry’s name, none of which he knew about.
*Case studies are based on insights from partners”