What is it?

ID theft is when your personal information is stolen and used to open bank accounts, take out credit cards and loans or apply for government benefits and documents in your name such as passports and driving licences.

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 or bank cards from your purse or wallet. Social media can also be used by criminals to find out personal details about you and build a better picture of your identity.

How to spot if your identity has been stolen

  1. Transactions appear on your bank statement that you don’t recognise
  2. You receive letters about loans or credit 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 subsequently declined due to a poor credit history. He had consistently paid off all his credit cards and built up his credit score so was unsure why this was the case.

He had 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 basic personal information from his social media profile, which included details about 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 then been opened in Larry’s name, none of which he knew about.

If you believe you’ve fallen for a scam, contact your bank immediately on a number you know to be correct, such as the one listed on your statement, their website or on the back of your debit or credit card.

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 business 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.