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Your identity is important


Your identity is valuable. Without it, many of the things we take for granted on a day to day basis would be impossible to get. Bank accounts, passports, driving licences, mortgages and tenancies, insurance, mobile phone contracts, benefits: all of these, and many more, depend on being able to prove who you are. 

Sadly, more and more fraudsters are stealing identities. This can mean pretending to be you to get new products or services, or using your details to break into and hijack your accounts.

If you, or someone you know, has found that a credit card has been taken out in your name, or that someone has withdrawn money from your account, then you already know how important your identity is. Unfortunately, it also means you're aware of identity crime. 


What is identity crime?

Identity crime relies on criminals using personal details - dates of birth, financial details, passwords and so on - to get past an organisation’s security measures. There are three main forms of identity crime today.

  • Identity theft is the act of obtaining the personal or financial information of a real person with the intent of assuming their identity, usually as a method to gain products, services or other benefits in their name.  
  • Identity fraud is the act of deliberately using a stolen or fictitious identity to make applications for new products or services or to open a new account.
  • Facility takeover fraud, or account takeover fraud, is when a fraudster has enough details (like passwords) to bypass security on your existing accounts and take them over.  


These are not victimless crimes. Fraud never is. Money lost to fraudsters ends up increasing the cost of services, interest rates and premiums for genuine customers. Identity theft and account takeover can also be traumatic for the victim. It can be months before the fraudster's actions are discovered, and in some cases it can take just as long to sort out the mess left behind.


How can you protect yourself?


The best protection against identity crime is prevention. Your best defence is knowing how you are vulnerable, what scams are popular with fraudsters, where and when you might be targeted and - most importantly - how to protect your identity. Visit our Stay unique advice page for what you need to know about protecting your identity.


If you're still unlucky enough to fall victim, remember help is available. But it's important to ACT FAST - for advice on what to do next, click here.