How To Check if Someone Is Using Your Identity For Fraud

Posted by Paul Anderson-Riley in Identity Theft on 3 April 2019 - Paul is a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile

Scams and fraudsters may have evolved to become more sophisticated over time, but when it comes to fighting back, one piece of advice has stayed true: If you’re concerned that you might have fallen victim to identity fraud or want to better protect yourself against it, your Credit Report is one of the best places to turn.

Once you know what you’re looking for, the warning signs should be much easier to spot.

Over the years we’ve covered the topic of identity theft numerous times, and not without reason, as the number of reported identity fraud cases continues to grow each year. Cifas (the not-for-profit fraud prevention membership organisation) saw almost 175,000 cases of identity fraud in the UK in 2017 – a 125% increase on the same period 10 years ago.

If you suspect you have been a victim of identity fraud, we strongly recommend checking your Credit Report as soon as possible; amongst other things it shows recent applications for credit, as well as detailing existing credit agreements held in your name.

If you haven’t already, you can try checkmyfile FREE for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month afterwards, which you can cancel anytime online, or by phone or email.

Identity fraud is very real but is easily misunderstood and sometimes overhyped. If left undetected, fraud can be a highly intrusive crime that could leave you out of pocket and make it more difficult for you to take out a loan, credit card or mortgage in the future.

These are just a few of the insights that your Credit Report can provide.

Suspicious credit searches

Search footprints provide an insight into when your Credit Report has been accessed (and to a degree – why). Because you need to give your permission for anyone to access your personal information, any search footprint that you don’t recognise can in rare cases be an early warning sign that someone is attempting to take out credit using your details.

But searches of your Credit Report can relate to much more than an application for credit. Your file also gets searched when you apply to, rent a property, apply for certain jobs or even use comparison sites to get insurance or utility quotes. The type of search footprint left for these searches are usually different to the ones left when your Credit File is checked when applying for credit – these searches are the ones you need to be on the lookout for.

There is a chance that you mightn’t recognise a some of the searches on your Credit Report at first glance – they will very often be listed against a company name rather than a ‘brand’ name, but a quick Google should help reveal what it relates to. The date of the search and type will also be listed.

If you’re ever in any doubt about any of the search footprints on your Credit Report, especially where it relates to a credit application, make sure you contact the company as soon as possible – it could be all it takes to spot fraud cases early on. As a checkmyfile customer, you can also get straight through to one of our Professional Credit Analysts, who will be able to advise you on the steps you should take.

Unrecognised Credit Accounts

Finding a credit account that you don’t think relates to you is a much more serious discovery.

You should go through your Credit Report carefully to make sure that you recognise all the accounts that are being reported. Much like credit searches, if you see any you don’t recognise, contact the organisation or lender in question straight away. Each account listed on your checkmyfile Credit Report will show you when the account was opened, the address where it is recorded and contact details for the organisation should you need them.

It’s rare to discover an account that has been opened fraudulently, but it does happen. Should you discover such an entry on your own report, you may need to seek removal by way of a Notice of Dispute. If you’re a checkmyfile customer we can help you through this process and raise disputes on your behalf with the CRAs.

Not all erroneous accounts on your report are guaranteed to be fraudulent: on rare occasions someone else’s information may appear as your own as a result of an admin error. In these cases the advice to inform the lender still remains, as the information on your Credit Report should be a reflection of your information and yours alone. If the lender agrees that there has been an error, it will inform the relevant Credit Reference Agencies on your behalf. Again, it might require you to dispute the information directly with the agencies in order to get it removed.

Unknown linked addresses

Finally, you should check your Reported and Linked Addresses. An unknown address could be an indication that someone has attempted to use your details to take out credit from a different address. They may provide a different address to have goods delivered but the entry itself can often end up on your report.

In instances where the organisation name has been reported we recommend direct contact with them to find out why they have linked you to the address.

If you have any evidence that an attempt has been made to commit fraud, you should contact your bank immediately – even if a would-be fraudster might have failed an attempt in the past, it doesn’t mean that their next try won’t be successful. Under these circumstances, there are measures that can be taken to grant you added protection against further attempts, such as adding a Cifas Victim of Impersonation marker to your file.

Unusual activity outside of your Credit Report

Your Credit Report is an invaluable tool when it comes to spotting early warning signs of fraudulent activity, but there are other things to look out for.

Our free-to-use Identity fraud Risk Estimator allows you to see where you might be vulnerable, based on your lifestyle and habits and includes a vast amount of information about what to watch out for and how better to protect yourself against fraudsters.

If you haven’t already, you can try checkmyfile FREE for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month, which you can cancel online, by phone or by email. You’ll get access to the UK’s most detailed Credit Report, along with support from our UK-based professionally-qualified Credit Analysts if you need it. Subscribers also benefit from free Identity fraud Assistance, should you fall victim while a customer.

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