What is identity theft?

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Identity theft is when someone takes your personal information without your permission and uses it to commit fraud. This personal information may include your name, date of birth or National Insurance number.

Identity theft is a growing problem, largely due to more widespread use of information technology – including internet and email. Once your identity is stolen, criminals may use this to withdraw money from your bank accounts and investments, or run up large debts in your name.  As well as the financial loss involved, victims of identity theft can often find that they’re left with a damaged reputation and ruined credit which can take some time to be put right.  

For example, criminals could use this information to do the following in your name:

  • Open bank accounts.
  • Take out insurance policies or submit insurance claims.
  • Get credit cards, loans or state benefits.
  • Obtain identification documents such as passports or driving licences.
  • ‘Take over’ your existing bank accounts or investments and withdraw funds from them for their own benefit.

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