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. 

So - what if someone else was claiming to be you? What would happen if someone was using your identity to get products and services?

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 had that sinking feeling upon finding that a credit card you did not know about has been taken out in your name, or that someone has withdrawn money from your account, then you already know how important your identity is.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, or impersonation fraud, is when a criminal uses a real person's details to impersonate them and open new accounts. 
  • Identity fraud is when a criminal makes up an identity - often involving forged documents - to get products or services. 
     
  • 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.  

In 2013 alone, Cifas identified and protected over 138,800 victims of these identity crimes.

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.

 

Don't panic!

There are measures you can take to reduce your likelihood of falling victim to identity crime.

If you're still unlucky enough to fall victim, remember - help is available. And you should be able to get back any money that was taken, as long as it wasn't because of any negligence on your part (like having all your PINs and passwords written down in your wallet when it's stolen).

 

For more information

Is identity fraud serious?

How do I avoid being a victim - and what can I do if I do become one?