What To Do After You’ve Been The Victim Of Identity Fraud

Identity fraud is on the rise in the UK. Reports from CIFAS, the national fraud prevention agency, state that 189,108 individual cases of identity fraud in the UK in 2018 alone. CIFAS also report that approximately 500 identities are stolen in the UK every day.

As a provider of emergency loans, here at Wizzcash we understand the panic and devastation caused by identity fraud and the confusion of how to move forward. We’re looking at who might be most at-risk and what you can do to protect yourself in the future.

Who Is The Biggest Target For Identity Theft?

One of the most important things to understand about identity fraud, is that it happens “almost exclusively online”. Major data breaches by huge companies, such as Capital One, Microsoft and British Airways, has also fuelled hackers and fraudsters because the information they need has become more easily available.

Reports from CIFAS highlight that approximately 20% of fraud victims are company directors. This is interesting because they make up much smaller portion of the UK’s population. The non-profit agency highlights that people who have a director title are likely to have the information required for fraudsters listed publicly on Companies House. This can be accessed by anyone which means this is an at-risk demographics for fraud.

With identity theft being fuelled by online behaviour, there are very few people who are not at risk of being a victim. Popular opinion suggests that older people are most likely to fall victim to identity fraud because they have a lack of knowledge when using the internet, therefore making them vulnerable. However, as Generation Z turn 18, they might find that they are also a high-risk demographic. This is because this is the first generation to have grown up with social media and profiles that detail their personal information, including their date of birth, where they live and often their employer’s information, too. This data can be pieced together for fraudsters to commit identity fraud, sometimes applying for payday loans and mobile phone contracts in someone else’s name.

Nonetheless, data does support the opinion that older people are common targets of identity fraud, too. Over 33,000 over-60s fell victim to identity fraud in 2018. CIFAS data suggests that this is because this demographic is most likely to be accepted for credit, because they are at a stable financial position in their lives, which makes them a hot-bed for those committing plastic card fraud. This is when a fraudster uses personal information to apply for a credit card. Moreover, CIFAS also highlights that this demographic’s internet presence is also on the rise, meaning personal information, and perhaps a limited understanding of privacy settings, makes older people a prime target for identity fraud.

Will It Affect Your Credit Score?

Often, the first time victims are made aware of identity fraud is when their card declines, or a late-payment letter is sent to their address. This can be extremely upsetting, particularly when you live to a tight budget. Anecdotal reports indicate that individual’s have been unable to buy food and pay their rent because of identity fraud. This kind of emergency can also make some people reach for a  short term loan  whilst they wait for official services to investigate the issue. This is an expensive way to borrow money but might be the only way out of a tight situation for some people.

Identity fraud can negatively impact your credit score, too. Even if an application for a credit card, for example, is rejected, an inquiry mark will still be left on the victim’s credit report. This is a temporary ‘foot print’, but is important to rectify, nonetheless. In turn, missed and late payments will be marked on your credit profile.

When you become aware of identity fraud, it will be crucial for your financial security and future to contact all parties to get any negative errors on your report altered; allowing these marks to remain on your profile could impact your ability to successfully apply for credit in the future. Although you might not consider it an immediate concern that your credit report has been knocked, it could stay on the file for 6 years.

What Can You Do Moving Forwards?

  • We identified that company directors and those who run their own company, and this can be anything from a major corporation to a sole trader business, are the most at-risk for identity fraud, commonly being targeted multiple times in a three year period. Unfortunately, you are unable to take your information down from Companies House. However, it is recommended by fraud prevention experts, including the chairwoman of CIFAS, that individuals try to separate their professional and personal details as much as possible. For example, the corresponding address listed could be a business address or a dedicated post box, unassociated with your personal life.
  • Similarly, older people, and those who are not as confident using the internet or protecting their data should seek help to improve their knowledge, wherever possible. Age UK run free services to teach those who were not brought up with the internet, or who are more vulnerable to this kind of scam, practical ways they can protect their data online. Signing yourself or a loved one up is a proactive way to protect finances.
  • Take control of your information, whether that’s online or in writing, it’s crucial that you avoid simple mistakes that could put you at risk, such as putting in-tact documents in the paper recycling, without shredding them. Simple privacy settings changes online could also save you distress and money.
  • Regularly monitor your credit score. If you have been the victim of identity fraud, it is possible that you will be targeted again. This is because the information required was available at one point, and it’s impossible to delete something once it’s been on the internet. Signing up to one of the credit reference agencies, such as Clear Score, is a free and easy way to keep track of your credit information. If there are any dips or changes in the score, it could highlight that there has been fraudulent activities in your name.

Should You Sign Up For Extra Protection?

CIFAS provide a protective registration service, which can be used for those who have previously been a victim of identity fraud. This places individuals on a list which means when anyone makes an application for credit or financial services (sometimes including insurance) in their name, the necessary company will be notified and will have to take extra steps to protect the individual. This can be like a two-factor authentication when applying for credit. It can take a little bit longer to apply and be accepted for credit but could protect you and your finances in the long run.

Here at Wizzcash, we are a payday loan direct lender, as well as a broker. We take the protection of your information very seriously, but we also work to a strict lending criteria to protect customers. We may still be able to approve you for a same day loan even if you have previously been a victim of identity fraud. Same day loan approvals and pay-outs depend on whether you applied during work hours or not. To find out more about our loans and how we could help you, browse our website.