Identity fraud

Identity fraud is often described as ‘Britain’s fastest growing crime'. It involves the misuse of identity information in order to commit crime.


Victims of identity fraud often report a great deal of inconvenience, stress and cost in trying to clear matters up - they may never establish how their details have been obtained.

Report it

All Fraud should be reported to Action Fraud who collate the information to look for patterns that the police can investigate.

If you report a Fraud to the police directly they will only investigate where they suspect there is a local connection and the victim has provided detailed information.

It is therefore very important that you do what you can to stop yourself becoming a victim of Fraud. Please read the below to learn how you can do this.

How is your identity used?

Once a key piece of information, such as card details has been obtained, other information may be gathered from other sources, depending on the intention of the fraudster. Put together, they can obtain sufficient information to impersonate somebody and make a payment using their financial information.

  • Information that was given for another purpose may be used as a basis for ID Fraud.
  • Internet sites such as Facebook, other social networking sites and publicly available information such as the voter's register, are used to gather identifying personal information.
  • The most common types of identity fraud involve the use of compromised credit and debit card details.
  • Account 'takeover' is a growing trend. Information is obtained to take over bank, card and loan accounts in order to make high value purchases and take out loans.
  • Genuine documents may be obtained such as passports and driving licences.

Be vigilant in providing and using your personal information. In particular:

Your address:

  • If you start to receive post for someone you don't know at your address find out why.
  • Register to vote at your current address. Lenders use the electoral roll to check where you live.
  • When registering to vote, tick the box to opt out of the ‘Edited’ register to prevent unsolicited marketing mail. (This does not affect credit checks).
  • Sign up with the Mail Preference Service to prevent marketing letters.
  • Protect mail left in communal areas of residential properties.
  • Re-direct your mail when moving home.

Your accounts:

  • Regularly check statements and chase up any that are not delivered when expected.
  • Shred, using a cross cut (confetti) shredder anything containing personal information.
  • Sign up with a credit reference agency for alerts.
  • Regularly check your credit reports with a Credit Reference Agency.
  • Sign up to Mastercard Secure Code or Verified by Visa when you receive your cards, even if you do not intend to use your cards online - this protects you if your card or details are lost or stolen.

Your phones:

  • Beware of unsolicited phone calls, letters and emails pretending to be your bank, or other financial institution and asking you to confirm your personal details, passwords and security numbers.
  • Sign up with the Telephone Preference Service to prevent marketing phone calls.
  • If using a ‘smart’ phone install anti-virus software on it.

Your computer:

  • Keep your computer security programs (anti-virus, anti- spam) up to date.
  • Restrict the amount of personal information that you disclose on the web.
  • Don’t fall for on line scams, phishing emails, advance fee or other internet-related frauds.
  • Know how to verify secure websites if making financial transactions.
  • When forwarding emails, delete other people’s email addresses, and if sending an email to several people, ‘blind copy’ their email addresses to guard against email scammers.

You should:

  • Opt out where you can - companies may send you marketing mail or share your details in mailing lists with other companies.
  • Don’t divulge more information than you need to - why do they want so much personal information?
  • Think very carefully before giving information to researchers or charity collectors.
  • Have a secure place to store confidential documents at home. In a safe, for example.
  • Don’t carry what you don’t need in your wallet, purse, or bag, such as passports or credit cards.

If you think that you are a victim of identity fraud - act quickly

  • Do not ignore the problem - it might not be you that has ordered some goods or opened an account, but the debt falls to your name and address.
  • Inform the card issuer or other financial institution concerned as soon as possible.
  • Do not destroy the card if it is still in your possession - keep it as evidence.
  • Identify fraudulent transactions as soon as possible. Inform the companies involved if possible.
  • Inform the police if you have lost money directly or can identify a suspect. Card companies pass information relating to transactions on compromised cards directly to the Police.
  • Obtain a copy of your credit report from a credit reference agency.
  • Sign up with the CIFAS Protective Registration Service : 0330 1000 180 (local rate) or e-mail:protective registration.

(Source: Met Police)


Content uploaded: |
Content correct on page at last modification date.
Devon and Cornwall Police are NOT accountable for the content of external websites