When you realise that someone has stolen your identity or that you’ve been a victim of identity fraud, your first thought is likely to be ‘what do I do now?’
The solution is made up of things you must do and things that you can do to make yourself more secure in the future when it comes to identity protection .
Things you must do after you’ve been a victim of identity theft and/or fraud
- Reporting identity theft
It’s important to report any instance of identity theft or fraud to Action Fraud. Action Fraud is a body set up by the police to make reporting identity theft and fraud simple and effective. In fact, you can even do it online. All you have to do is give Action Fraud the details of what’s happened and then you’ll receive a police crime reference number and your case will be passed onto the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). When your account provider conducts a fraud investigation, they will also alert the NFIB, but you should still register the incident with Action Fraud, who will offer you access to Victim Support – a charity designed to give free and confidential emotional and practical help for those affected by crime.
- Contact the affected account provider
It’s also important to contact the affected account providers and tell them what’s happened if you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft and/or fraud. They can then stop any further spending on the account from identity thieves, send out any necessary new cards or account details, and start a fraud investigation.
Once your account provider has completed the fraud investigation and confirms that the fraud has in fact taken place, they will get in touch with us to remove the fraud from your file so the likelihood of you being approved for credit isn’t affected.
- Check to see if any other accounts have been affected
If one of your accounts has been comprised, the rest may also be at risk, so it’s important to do a thorough check for suspicious activity across your accounts. Use your free credit report to help you identify any potential examples of identity theft and fraud. Start by going to the searches tab on your credit report and look for any you don’t recognise. If you don’t recall any of the searches, it may be that the name of the company running the search is the parent company of an organisation you do recognise. However, an unrecognised search can also be a sign that someone is trying to apply for credit in your name, so get in touch with the company running the search to see what’s going on.
You should also go to the Financial Account Information and Short Term Loans tabs in your credit report to check for any accounts you don’t recognise. If you spot something suspicious, get in touch with the company the account is with.
- Let the credit reference agencies know
When you’ve been a victim of fraud, it’s a good idea to let the three credit reference agencies know about it (Experian and Equifax are the other two). They will advise you of the different steps you can take.
Things you can do to make yourself more secure
- Add a notice of correction to your account
When you’ve been a victim of fraud, it’s possible to add a notice of correction to your credit report to explain the situation to lenders or anyone else who may run a search against you. This helps to give you peace of mind that if you need to apply for credit, lenders will understand any discrepancies. Once the issue has been resolved, the notice of correction can be removed.
- Set up Protective Registration with CIFAS
CIFAS is a not-for-profit organisation that works to protect people, businesses and organisations from fraud. If you’ve been a victim of fraud, you can contact CIFAS and request Protective Registration, which is a red flag against your name and other personal details on the National Fraud Database. This alerts organisations that use CIFAS to be wary if your details are used to apply for products or services. When they see the red flag, they will run additional checks to make sure it is you that they’re dealing with. This service costs £20 for 2 years but it may be an important layer of security if you’re at high risk.
- Lock down your accounts
Research last year from Get Safe Online showed that 43% of Brits use the same password for multiple accounts. This increases the risk that once a criminal has access to one of your accounts, they can get into the others. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft and/or fraud, consider changing your usernames and passwords across all of your accounts, making sure each has different details, to keep criminals out.
Protecting against identity theft and fraud
Whether you’ve already been a victim of identity theft and fraud or not, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself. Learn more about what the risks are and how to keep safe here.
If the worst happens, try to keep calm and work through the actions above to stop identity thieves in their tracks.