Identity fraud is often a two-stage process where your personal details are stolen and then used for financial gain or other criminal activity. You might be left with debt, a poor credit rating or other legal implications as a result.
Personal information such as your name, address, date of birth or bank account details can be obtained by criminals in a number of ways including phishing, hacking and document theft.
This is when a criminal tricks you into handing over your personal information via email or phone.
By exploiting security weaknesses on your computer, mobile phone or network, criminals gain access to your information through social media sites or other websites you visit and share information on.
Document theft is when criminals access your private information through unlocked mailboxes or personal documents that you've thrown away like utility bills, insurance renewals or health records.
7 tips to protect yourself from identity theft
- Don't open suspicious messages – delete them.
- Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites.
- Secure your networks and devices with anti-virus software and a good firewall.
- Put a lock on your mailbox and redirect mail when you move.
- Shred documents containing personal information before you throw them away.
- If a new card or product arrives in the mail that you didn't apply for, call the bank it came from immediately.
- Regularly check your credit file.