'I've had my bank account cleared. What now?'

It is important to act promptly and notify all your credit providers straight away

In part three of our reporting to coincide with the National ID Fraud Prevention Week , we take a look at what steps to take if the worst comes to the worst and you find that someone has been using your details to set up bank accounts, or you are paying for products and services that you haven't ordered. What should you do and who do you go to for help?

Am I liable?

First, don't panic. There is plenty of help and advice available. You won't be liable for debts accrued by a fraudster using your identity, but it is unfortunately down to you as the victim to sort out the mess caused. It is unlikely that you have been targeted personally, as victims are usually chosen at random. When a fraudster finds that they can't get any more credit in that name, they move on to the next person.

It is important to act promptly and notify all your credit providers straight away. It is also important to report it as a crime to the police and request a crime number. A national unit for reporting online crimes is about to be set up to make it easier to track incidents of e-crime, but in the meantime report any incidents to your local police.

APACS , the UK trade association for payments, advises that victims are protected against fraud under the Banking Code, meaning that in the event of fraud, banks will refund every penny that has been fraudulently taken from a bank account. £50 is the highest amount any victim should have to pay from their own pocket, and that may include copies of credit checks, and so on.

Keep a record

Industry body CIFAS , the UK's Fraud Prevention Service, advises victims to keep a record of everything, as recovering from identity theft can be a long and complicated process. CIFAS also advises that people keep track of how much time they spend dealing with the problem.

Victims of identity fraud, or anyone concerned that they could become a victim because they have had important documents stolen, can apply for extra protection through CIFAS' protective registration service. This costs £11.75 and places a warning on credit files. This should ensure that if anyone applies for credit under your name, further identity checks are made.

More information can be found on the following websites:


The UK's fraud prevention service. CIFAS is an industry body supported by major lenders in the UK credit industry and solely dedicated to the prevention of financial crime.

Identity Theft

Useful tips and web links are available at this Home Office website.

In tomorrow's feature, we will be taking a look at whether complicated jargon - firewall this, and phishing that - is a factor why people are not protecting themselves properly when using their computer.