Identity theft is when your personal details are stolen and identity fraud is when those details are used to commit fraud
Identity theft happens when fraudsters access enough information about someone’s identity (such as their name, date of birth, current or previous addresses) to commit a fraud. Identity theft can take place whether the victim is alive or deceased.
Identity theft is often a pre-cursor to fraud but is not considered a recordable crime. A recordable crime is committed when a financial gain is made from the use of that person’s identity by another individual. In fraud cases, the individual or company e.g., your bank who has or may have suffered a financial loss through the use of the stolen identity, will be the person considered the victim of fraud and you will be considered as a victim of identity theft.
If you’re a victim of identity theft, it can lead to fraud that can have a direct impact on your personal finances and could also make it difficult for you to obtain loans, credit cards or a mortgage until the matter is resolved. You can find more information on what to do if your identity has been stolen by using the identity theft checklist.
If you have had your identity stolen but have not lost any money, you should still report it to the relevant organisations and should follow the steps in the identity fraud checklist which set out what you need to do to protect yourself.
Identity fraud can be described as the use of that stolen identity in criminal activity to obtain goods or services by deception.
- Fraudsters can use your identity details to:
- Open bank accounts.
- Obtain credit cards, loans and state benefits.
- Order goods in your name.
- Take over your existing accounts.
- Take out mobile phone contracts.
- Obtain genuine documents such as passports and driving licences in your name.
Stealing an individual’s identity details does not, on its own, constitute identity fraud. But using that identity for any of the above activities does.
The first you know of it may be when you receive bills or invoices for things you haven’t ordered, or when you receive letters from debt collectors for debts that aren’t yours.
Once you realise that identity fraud has occurred you should sign up to a credit referencing agency, check and report any activity that you do not recognise.