Identity

Identity theft happens when someone gets hold of your personal information or identity without your permission and then uses it to buy things in your name.

What can you do to keep your identity safe?

Here are some tips to follow to reduce your chances of identity theft;

  • Keep your personal information safe and think before you throw anything away with it on - for example, old bills, letters etc.
  • Shred any documents that have your personal details on them.
  • Always check your bank statements carefully. If you find anything that looks unusual, contact the retailer and your card issuer as soon as possible to report it.
  • Make sure you close down any accounts you no longer use because they could be reactivated without you knowing.
  • If you are asked for personal information via email, fax or mail, check to see that whoever is asking you for it are genuine.
  • Only ever carry a small number of personal documents with you and don't leave documents in your car.
  • If an important document (such as your passport) does not arrive in the post, contact the relevant organisation as soon as possible. Report it straight away to the police if you think it has been stolen.
  • Be especially careful if you have a shared post area.

How can you protect yourself when using a cash machine?

  • Don't use a cash machine if it looks like it has been modified or tampered with.
  • Never let anybody see your PIN and shield the keypad when entering the number.

How can you protect yourself when using the internet and emails?

  • When you enter personal information on line, look out for the 'https' (the 's' shows that it is a secure area of the web site) in the address bar and only use secure sites. Look for the padlock symbol.
  • Always keep back ups and print outs of all online documentation.
  • Never disclose your card details as proof of identity or age and be wary of replying to e-mails asking for personal information.
  • Only transmit your financial details by secure email i.e. through a secure website or encrypt the message.
  • If you bank online - make sure you use a secure computer. Don't use shared computers such as those in internet cafes or libraries.
  • Be aware of phishing. This is where you receive a fake email or link to a website asking for personal information. Remember your bank will never ask for information in this way.

What to do if you think it's happened to you?

If you think someone is using your identity, there are some things you can do;

  • Get a credit check and see if any unauthorised applications have been made in your name.
  • If your cards are stolen, cancel them immediately.
  • Check your post is secure if you have any suspicions.
  • Check you have all your important documents such as your driving licence or passport.
  • Keep a record of everything and contact the police.
  • Report it straight away.

Key contact

Lancashire constabulary

Visit the Lancashire Constabulary website 

See also

Crimestoppers

Crimestoppers is a charity that you can report a crime or information about a crime too anonymously. They also provide simple tips to prevent you from being a victim of crime. Find out more 

Lancashire partnership against crime

The Lancashire Partnership Against Crime is a charity that has allocated over £1 million to support various crime prevention and community safety schemes throughout Lancashire. Find out more

CIFAS

CIFAS is the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, and offer a service called Protective Registration that helps to protect those whose identity is at risk due to crime or loss of data. Find out more

Action fraud

Action Fraud is UK’s national fraud reporting centre. If you think you've been a victim of fraud there is a network of support and information available to you. Find out more