Updated on 21 May 2015.
With online fraud growing and the annual cost of identity theft to the economy estimated at £1.2 billion, the threat of being scammed is a very real one. That said, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of fraud meaning that you can protect yourself and your identity from potential scammers.
However, unfortunately fraud still happens and if it happens to you, you'll want to know what to do about it.
There are several things that might give you a clue that someone has stolen your identity, stolen money from an account of yours, or is otherwise using your personal details for their own gain. Here are the essentials to look out for:
If any of these things happen to you, you can be reasonably suspicious that you are at risk of or may already be a victim of fraud.
First of all, don't panic. It may be that a transaction on your statement that seems strange can be traced back to a harmless source; for example you might see a payment of £50 to your local supermarket when you know you only spent £20 - until you remember you asked for £30 cashback that day. It may also be that a mistake has been made by your bank which can easily be rectified.
As such the first thing you should do if you spot an anomaly regarding the use of your credit card, debit card, a cheque or an online payment is contact your bank. Your bank (or the financial organisation who issued the card or account) will then report the matter to the police if necessary, and give you all the support you need to get the problem sorted..
In all instances if you think you've been scammed your bank should be your first port of call. If you suspect money has been stolen from your account you can call Crime Stoppers too on 0800 555 111. If any of your personal documents have been stolen such as your passport or driving license, report this to the relevant organisation right away (Home Office Identity & Passport Service for lost passports, DVLA for lost driving licenses).
It may also be a good idea to register with CIFAS if you have had personal documents stolen as they provide a service recommended by the FCA whereby your personal details will be protected in future - though membership does cost upwards of £20 a year.
Finally, you can also contact a credit reference agency if you think you've been a victim of fraud or if you see something suspicious on your credit report. Get in touch with Experian, Equifax or Callcredit (you only need to contact one, as the information will be passed on to the other two) and they will be able to advise you on what to do next.
Written by Sally at money.co.uk
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