Identity Theft

Methods of identity theft

By knowing a few of the different methods used by identity thieves, you can raise your awareness and be more vigilant when online.


Phishing is a method criminals use to steal your identity. Usually these types of scams are sent via email and direct you to websites where you are asked to supply personal data. Be wary of any emails asking for personal information.


A ‘spoofing’ scam involves redirecting the user to a duplicated website, with the intention of stealing their personal information. For example, a fake online banking website made to look like the authentic site (including logos, colour and text) would allow scammers access to your bank details. Be wary of any emails or websites asking for bank details.


Rogue security software, also known as ‘scareware’ is the method of luring a user into downloading fake anti-virus software

Protect yourself from identity theft

By following these simple steps, you can protect yourself and avoid scams.

  • Do not give any personal information (name, address, bank details, email or phone number) to organisations or people before verifying their credentials
  • Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall installed. Ensure your browser is set to the highest level of security notification and monitoring.
  • Sign-up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code whenever you are given the option while shopping online. This involves you registering a password with your card company and adds an additional layer of security to online transactions with signed-up retailers
  • You should regularly get a copy of your credit file and check it for entries you don't recognise. Callcredit, Equifax and Experian can all provide your credit file
  • Be extremely wary of post, phone calls or emails offering you business deals out of the blue. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always question it.

Are you a victim?

You may have been a victim of identity theft if you:

  • Receive letters/emails regarding bank accounts you haven't opened
  • Receive credit cards you haven't applied for
  • Are denied credit or loans for no reason
  • Receive calls/letters from debt collectors.

Your identity and personal information are valuable. Criminals with access to your personal details can open bank accounts, apply for credit cards, loans, benefits and documents such as passports and driving licenses in your name.

Report Fraud

To report a fraud contact Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud reporting centre. Action Fraud is the place for you to report fraud and scams, as well as get advice if you're not sure what to do.

Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit the Action Fraud website for more information.

In an emergency always dial 999.


For more information on preventing identity theft, visit the Get Safe Online website.