Identity theft and online fraud is big business.
When you're online you leave a trail of little clues about yourself like your name, your date of birth and where you live. You use these details to prove who you are to open bank accounts, buy goods and apply for credit or a job.
Unfortunately, criminals want to do exactly the same thing.
Criminals specialise in this for the sole aim to commit fraud. By gathering up all the pieces of information about you, they can apply for credit cards and loans in your name. Worse, they can use the identity they've stolen from you for other, more serious crimes.
Keeping your identity protected online is straightforward if you know what to look out for. And it's worth knowing the kind of tricks that fraudsters often use. That way, you can stay safe online.
Having your identity stolen is frightening, upsetting and hugely disruptive to your life. The Home Office estimates it takes 300 hours to restore your financial and credit records after identity theft. If it was a full-time job, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, it would take over a month to fix.
But, the sooner you notice odd things happening, the easier it should be to undo the damage, get your identity back and defeat the fraudsters.
How often do you throw out old receipts, paperwork or unopened mail? It's easily done but it can have serious consequences.
Fraudsters will happily search through your bins for any personal or financial information. Over a period of weeks, their goal is to build up enough information about you to steal your identity.
Piecing all of these together, fraudsters can build a surprisingly accurate picture of you. Then pretend to be you.