Identity Theft

There is a simple definition of identity theft. It occurs if someone gets access to, and then uses, your own personal identification details for the purpose of passing themselves off as you!

So, why is deliberate identity theft a serious issue? It means the thief would have the full name of the victim, rather than a Christian or surname by itself.

They might go one step further and find out even more data relating to someone’s personal identity, such as their:

  • Date of birth
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Bank account number
  • National Insurance number (NINO)

Identity Theft Definition: Any information obtained to help someone pass themselves off as, or take on the role of, the victim.

What is identity theft definition and how to avoid having your identity stolen.

Criminality of Identity Theft

Personal identity theft is relatively easy for someone who is determined, or experienced, in this type of criminal activity.

In fact, some criminals make a good living by obtaining data about others. They will either use it themselves, or sell it on to people or organizations who will make further use of it.

Anything that can help to identify you, or pass someone else off as being you, is of value. Sometimes, the use of stolen information is for use in a criminal manner. Whereas, the purpose of stealing it may be for commercial reasons instead (equally illegal activities).

Even though legislation exists to prevent this activity, there is no substitute for getting expert advice about legal matters.

Personal Information is Important: Don’t Lose It!

Some information about yourself might seem is harmless, such as your full name or family details. Even so, they can be used for fraudulent purposes. Typical examples include obtaining a loan or other types of finance. Often, the villain will use ‘you’ as a guarantor or a reference provider.

In many cases, an identity thief does not need great lengths to obtain your personal information. It seems many are flippantly using their personal info, almost to the extent of giving it away. There will always be someone wanting your information details – not only in the criminal fraternity.

Items of Personal Information

The foremost items of personal information that criminals steal, include:

  • Your name (including any nicknames you might have).
  • Your date of birth and where you were born.
  • Reference numbers from government sources, including your:
    • Driving licence number.
    • National Insurance number.
    • Other reference numbers from official letters .
  • Utility bill details, such us your electricity or phone bill and account number.
  • Any reference number that relates to welfare benefits that you claim.
  • Credit agreement details (including account numbers and finance details).
  • Bank details, such as an account number or sort bank sort code number. It applies to all bank accounts as well as any loans you may have.
  • Credit card or debit card details.
  • Family personal details, like your parents names and place of birth.
  • Employment information, including:
    • Where you work.
    • Who you work with.
    • How long you have worked there.
    • Employer numbers.
  • Health identification details (e.g. from hospitals or your own family GP).
  • Your local council numbers, such as rent, rates, and planning applications.

Much of this information is freely available, even though it should not be! Thieves get it from supermarkets, travel agents, online facilities, and club memberships.

Note: The most widely sourced resource for identity theft is the wide-ranging databases on the internet.

Passing Off as Being Someone Else

All this is useful to unscrupulous persons who may want to pass themselves off as being you. Often, they do not have to put in appearance or even show up in person. They can simply confirm they are ‘you’ on the telephone or by email.

Once they have your information at hand, being ‘you’ is relatively easy. And, it will become increasingly so with the sophisticated techniques that are now available through information technology.

Resources: The ICO information toolkit offers further advice on how to safeguard your personal information [PDF opens in a new window].