Identity theft

Find out what identity theft and fraud mean and how to keep yourself safe

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is when a fraudster steals your personal information – usually so they can use it to impersonate you.

Keep your personal details, personal

Some of these details are obviously more sensitive, like the password to your online banking. But there are other details that fraudsters might want to find out too.

For example, simple details like these can help a fraudster steal your identity:

Date of birth

Full name

Address

This is why you should always be cautious of what you publish on social media - and check your privacy settings to ensure only people you trust are able to see what you share.

Your personal details need to be kept private. Personal information, like your full name and address, is what you use to prove who you are to banks and other financial companies.

What a fraudster can do with your identity

Identity fraudsters can use your personal information to do things like:

Withdraw money from your account

Use money from your account to pay for goods and services

Set up a credit card or store card in your name

Apply for a loan in your name

Apply for a mobile phone contract

Keeping your identity safe is all about how you protect it

It’s a good idea to remove your date of birth from your social media accounts. This doesn’t mean you’ll stop your friends and family wishing you well on your birthday. You can review your privacy settings to make sure only people you know can see things like your birthday posts.

Limit information about where you live to something general, like the city you live in. Never publish your full address publicly.

Have different passwords for your various online profiles, and make sure you have a strong password for each one. Read our guide to keeping your passwords safe and secure to find out how to pick a good password.

While your personal details need to be protected online, there are also ways fraudsters can get access to your information offline as well.

Keep sensitive documents like bank statements in a safe place and only share your personal information with people you trust.

If you’re throwing any paperwork away, make sure you shred it first.

If you move house, make sure you tell your bank, building society and credit card companies immediately, so letters and replacement cards don’t get into the wrong hands.

Check your statements regularly using Online Banking or Mobile Banking and look out for suspicious transactions. Report anything that you don’t recognise immediately.

If someone sets up a credit card in your name, you might not realise straight away. There’s often time between a bill becoming overdue and a creditor seeking payment from the person named on the account. Make a habit of checking your credit report to look out for any credit applications that you haven’t made. You can dispute anything inaccurate and could have it taken off your credit report.

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