Preventing Identity Theft
What is it?
Identity fraud (or identity theft) happens when someone uses your personal details without your knowledge or consent. They might use the information to get a credit card or loan, to go shopping with your money, or to create false documents like passports and birth certificates.
How to help prevent it
- If you move house, tell your bank, card issuer and all the other organisations you deal with. And redirect mail from your old address for at least a year.
- Get regular updates of your personal credit file to see which financial organisations have accessed your details. It's a good idea to check your personal credit file 2-3 months after you've moved house.
You can get copies of your credit file from a credit reference agency:
Call Credit –
- Use a shredder to destroy documents like bank statements, utility bills, pre-filled application forms and debit/credit card receipts – anything that shows your name, address or other personal details.
- Check your bank and credit card statements as soon as you receive them – and report any transactions you don't recognise.
- Keep a note of when your bills and statements should arrive in the post. If you don't receive a statement, tell the organisation straight away.
How to spot it
- You receive bills, invoices or receipts for things you've not ordered. Or you get letters from solicitors or debt collection agencies about debts that aren't yours.
- You receive confirmation letters or statements for accounts you haven't opened.
- There are transactions (normally debits) on your statements that you don't recognise.
- Important documents go missing – such as your passport, driving licence, utility bills or bank statements.
- New accounts appear on your credit file that you don't recognise.
- Searches appear on your credit file that don't relate to an application made by you or anyone else living at your address.
- When you apply for benefits, you're told you're already claiming.
- You have a good credit history, but you're turned down because of a default on your record.
If you're a victim of identity fraud
- Act promptly. If you have an M&S Card, call 0845 900 0900 (calls may be recorded). And notify any other credit providers straight away.
- Report the crime to the police and request a crime number.
- Keep a record of everything – recovering from identity fraud can be a long and complicated process.
- Send letters by recorded or special delivery – and keep track of how much time you spend dealing with the problem.
- If you're a victim of identity fraud, or if you've had important documents stolen, you can apply for extra protection through CIFAS, the UK's Fraud Prevention Service. Their Protective Registration Service places a warning on your credit file so that extra identity checks are made if anyone applies for credit under your name.
Home Office Government Website –