What is identity theft?
Criminals commit identity theft by stealing your personal information – that is, your name, address, date of birth, bank account numbers, passwords and so on – and then pretending to be you. This is fraud.
It's usually done for financial gain – for example, your bank account can be accessed and your money stolen or someone can make purchases or apply for credit in your name.
When using the internet, it's very important to take precautions to protect your identity details.
How to spot scam emails, texts or social media messages
Online fraudsters can mimic the company details and emails from trusted companies to hide their identity, so be vigilant! Scam messages will often imply a sense of urgency for you to act quickly. This might be to call a number included on a text message, a request for personal information, or banking details and security credentials.
Scam messages even encourage you to open links or attachments. This will open a fake website where you will be asked to login to your PayPal account for example. The fraudsters then use these details to access your account and steal your money.
Other types of identity fraud include:
- Tax rebate fraud
- Benefit fraud
- Telecommunications fraud
- Pension scams
- Romance fraud scams
- PPI refund scams
We recommend that you read our guide on How to protect yourself from identity theft.
This guide was updated on 26/06/2018