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

  1. Transactions appear on your bank statement that you don’t recognise
  2. You receive letters about loans, debt or plastic cards you didn’t apply for
  3. You’re told you’re already claiming government benefits when you apply
  4. You receive bills, invoices or receipts addressed to you for goods or services you haven’t asked for
  5. 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”

If think you might have been scammed, contact your bank immediatelyYou can also report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk. If you are in Scotland, please report to Police Scotland directly by calling 101. 

Always remember

Use a redirection service when moving to a new home such as the one provided by the Royal Mail as well as informing your bank, card company and other organisations you have accounts with of your new address.

Destroy unwanted documents including bills, bank statements or post that’s in your name, preferably by using a shedder.

Request copies of your personal credit report from a credit reference agency on a regular basis to check for any entries you don’t recognise.

Provide as little personal information about yourself on social media as possible and only accept invitations from people you know.

You can apply to be on the Cifas Protective Registration Service for a fee which places a flag next to your name and personal details in their secure National Fraud Database. Companies and organisations who have signed up as members of the database can see you’re at risk and take extra steps to protect you, preventing criminals from using your details to apply for products or services.

Be careful if other people have access to your post. Contact Royal Mail if you think your post is being stolen.

Cancel any lost or stolen credit or debit cards immediately.

Keep your personal information secure when using your card over the phone, on the internet, or in shops by ensuring that others can’t overhear you or see your information.

If your passport, driving licence, cards or other personal information have been lost or stolen, immediately contact the organisation that issued it.

Criminals may use the identity of a deceased person to commit identity theft. If someone close to you passes you can protect their identity using the Deceased Preference Service.


Scam warning: Criminals may purport to be from Take Five, using our official branding on websites, social media posts, literature, on the phone or by text. Take Five doesn’t provide endorsement or approval for any products/services and would never call or text anyone.