Finding yourself to be a victim of fraud can be a time of great stress and understandable worry, but by taking the correct steps quickly you can pursue claims to have any lost money returned to your account.
If the worst happens and you're a victim of fraud, you must take action immediately.
If you discover you are the victim of identity theft – you might often only find out when a bank or credit card company contacts you seeking recompense – act quickly to clear your name and flag that there's an issue.
Ignoring demands can lead to more problems, with bad debt added to your name and address, so get in touch with the financial company. Report any suspicions to the relevant bank or organisation immediately and they will alert the police if necessary.
Contact Action Fraud to report the issue, and ask if it has any specific advice for your case. It may be that Action Fraud cannot investigate your case fully, but it will issue you with a crime reference number for your case. This will be essential in pursuing a claim with your bank or credit card company.
Approach a credit report company – Callcredit, Equifax or Experian – to obtain a report on what other accounts might have been created in your name.
The report should explain any searches done by a lender, what date the search took place, what name and address it was done against and also for what type of application. It will also show what credit accounts are set up in your name.
Look at your credit report closely. If you find entries from organisations that you don’t recognise, get in touch with them too.
Contact CIFAS (the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service) and ask for protective registration. Once you have registered, at a cost of £20, CIFAS members will carry out extra checks and monitor when anyone, including you, applies for a financial service using your address.
Protect yourself against identity fraud
- If you're a Facebook user, restrict your account access to friends only. This prevents crooks harvesting information like dates of birth that might be useful.
- Never publish your address, phone number or – most importantly – your date of birth online. These provide information that could be used to open accounts in your name.
- Use strong, secure passwords, and different passwords for all of your online accounts to prevent hackers that access one website you use getting into other accounts.
- Pay attention to security – use encryption on your wi-fi and keep security software and operating systems up to date.
- Use passwords and PINs where possible on smartphones in case they are lost and found by someone dishonest.
Antivirus software often has ID fraud protection built-in. Read our Which? reviews of the best antivirus software.