You are a victim of identity theft if someone pretends to be you in order to steal money or gain some other sort of benefit.
It is an offence to possess, control and intend to use false identity documents – such as passports, immigration documents and driving licences – or to do the same with a genuine document that belongs to someone else. The offence of fraud, meanwhile, can be committed by: making a false representation; failing to disclose information, and by abuse of position. It is an offence under the fraud laws to obtain services dishonestly, possess equipment to commit frauds, and make or supply articles for use in frauds.
Once a fraudster has enough information about you s/he could use it to:
There are numerous ways fraudsters can steal your identity and use it to commit crime. Some of the tell-tale signs that someone could be passing themselves off as you for their own financial gain include:
There are numerous things you can do to minimise the risk of having your identity stolen. These include:
If any important mail is lost or stolen you should notify the Royal Mail. Lost or stolen passports should be reported to the Identity and Passport Service and the Driver, and Vehicle Licensing Agency should be told if your driving licence has been lost, stolen or destroyed.
Report lost or stolen cards or suspected fraudulent use of your card to your card company straight away. If you are the victim of plastic card, cheque or online banking fraud you don’t need to tell the police – once you’ve reported the matter to the bank or card company it’s up to them to report the matter to the relevant police force.
If the card is still in your possession, you shouldn’t have to pay for anything bought on it without your knowledge (depending on the terms and conditions of your account). If your card is lost or stolen and someone else uses it before you tell your card company, you will usually only be liable for losses up to £50 (unless you’ve kept your PIN with your cards or something in which case you may have to pay the whole lot).
If you’re worried about the effect of the identity theft on your credit file you can check its status by contacting a credit reference agency such as CallCredit, Equifax or Experian.
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