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Five signs you’re a victim of identity theft

1st September 2014 Print

More than 132,000 cases of identity-related fraud were recorded in the UK in 2013 – the equivalent of more than 350 people falling victim every day.

With cybercrime becoming increasingly sophisticated, identity theft can happen in countless ways, but – how confident are you that you would know if you had fallen victim?

Peter Turner, Managing Director, Experian Consumer Services UK&I says: “All it will take is five minutes to follow up on anything that raises your suspicion – according to our Victims of Fraud team, it takes an average of 246 days to discover identity theft. That’s a very long time for a fraudster to have your details without you knowing. Remembering the basics of online identity protection are key - simple steps such as using strong, unique passwords for each website you use and notifying service providers of your new address when you move home can all help. The harder you can make it for fraudsters to create a victim profile with your information, the more you’re protecting yourself from becoming a victim.”

Here are five key signs from Experian CreditExpert that help you spot if you’ve become a victim of identity theft:

1. Unexpected call charges appear on your mobile phone bill

A sign of account takeover, where a fraudster contacts your mobile phone operator pretending to be you, takes control of your account and makes unauthorised transactions, such as adding new devices, or SIM cards in your name.

Experian says: Contact your service provider immediately, highlighting the charges that you feel do not to relate to you.

2. You receive a delivery of a shiny new laptop/phone/TV you haven’t ordered or paid for

A fraudster may have purchased something in your name, planning to intercept the delivery, but have failed to do so.

Experian says: If you haven’t ordered the item, don’t accept the delivery. Check the delivery docket and contact the company from which the order was made. The delivery may simply have been made in error; however, checking your credit card and bank statements will also help spot if the item has been purchased fraudulently.

3. You receive unexpected, irrelevant mail Particularly mail that is outside of your purchasing sphere - if you don’t own a car, but start receiving copies of Luxury Car Club Monthly through your letterbox, this could be an indication that something is awry and that a car has been purchased in your name.

Experian says: Check your credit report for signs of unusual activity. This will help you spot if a fraudster has applied for or secured credit in your name.

4. You receive a letter or call from a debt collector or bailiff

In 2013, 641 people with whom the Experian Victims of Fraud team worked discovered they had become a victim of fraud when they received a call or letter from a debt collection company looking to recover debt in their names.

Experian says: If you are sure you do not owe money to the company in question, contact the debt collector or bailiff immediately. Anyone who thinks they have become a victim can also contact the Experian Victims of Fraud team, a service available free to fraud victims, with dedicated caseworkers to give tailored advice and support.

5. You receive a court summons

Non-payment of a bill in your name over a prolonged period of time might result in a summons being sent to you, even if you never set up a contract with that party.

Experian says: You might think that since you’ve done nothing wrong, it’s ok to ignore the summons. Don’t – contact the company or court immediately and explain the situation. The farther the situation progresses, the more difficult it can be to resolve.