What to do if your identity has been stolen

Identity theft is the act of stealing someone’s personal and financial information. They might find this information online, steal physical documents such as a driving licence or passport, or even go through someone’s rubbish to find personal details on bills, bank statements, invoices and receipts.

Once obtained, a fraudster might go on to commit identity fraud – opening accounts in the victim’s name, taking control of their bank account or applying for credit they have no intention of repaying.

If you suspect someone has got hold of information about you which they’re using to pose as you, act quickly to protect your identity and ensure you’re not liable for any financial losses.

Here’s what to do

Contact your bank

Ask them to withhold pending transactions and ask about their claims process if any money has been taken fraudulently.

Change your passwords and PINs

This should include bank accounts, email addresses and social media accounts.

Register with Cifas

Cifas is the UK’s fraud prevention community. For £25 you can have Protective Registration for 2 years which tells any Cifas organisation (which includes most banks, credit providers and telecommunication companies) to carry out extra checks whenever your name or details are used to apply for their services.

Lost or stolen documents?

Report them to the organisation that issued them, such as the Passport Office, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) or bank. You should also report the theft of documents to the police and ask for a crime reference number.

Unusual transactions on your bank statement?

Tell your bank, building society and credit card company immediately.

Check your credit report

This will show you if anyone has been trying to make credit applications using your identity. The three main credit reference agencies in the UK are:

A credit check is free and it won’t affect your credit score, so it may be worth checking with all three.

Suspicious credit applications?

Report any mismatches to the credit reference agencies, who will alert the relevant lender. The lender will investigate and approve the request to have the credit application removed from your credit report. This can take several weeks, so the sooner you report it, the sooner your records will be updated.

Credit taken out in your name?

Tell the bank or lender immediately. You should also report any fraudulent activity to the police and ask for a crime reference number.

Worried your credit score is at risk?

Consider setting up an extra layer of security on your credit report, which makes it harder for fraudsters to pretend to be you. Here are 2 options.

1. A fraud alert on your credit report

This means lenders must run extra identity checks before offering credit in your name. There is a cost for this service through the credit reference agencies.

2. A Notice of Correction password

This can be added to your credit report for free. Make sure you choose something nobody could guess. If anyone applies for credit in your name – including you – the lender must ask for this password before they lend the money.

Identity theft victim’s checklist

For further advice on what to do if you’ve been affected by identity theft, check out this handy checklist on the Action Fraud website.

How else can we help?

Reporting fraud

Find out how to report fraud and help the police crack down on the criminals behind it.

Support after fraud

Find out how to get support to deal with the practical and emotional impact of fraud.