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The stealing of someone's personal details in which criminals pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name.

Today there is so much of our lives controlled by the Internet, from social activities to online banking and shopping. Some of this entails us using our personal and banking details to purchase items. While the websites we use may be secure, our computers may not be. One virus could allow criminals access to bank details and login details for websites we use.

Even with just our personal details criminals can cause a lot of problems. They can open loans or store accounts using your details. Suddenly you could find bailiffs knocking on your door or letters demanding payment coming through your letterbox.

Problems caused by identity theft can take months to sort out, taking up lots of your time and causing personal stress.

Children are very quick to fill out forms on the Internet without any consideration what the details will be used for or the consequence.

Identity theft with children mainly centres on the use of their name to take out loans or open accounts.

Watch for letters coming though the post asking for payment or confirmation of items or services you have not ordered. Contact the companies and speak to them about the order. Get dates and times of the purchases, and if possible where the order was placed. Phone your bank and get them to check your accounts for abnormal purchases

Watch for letters for the government saying your child benefits are being paid into another account or you receive letters saying your child has paid income tax. Phone the related departments and tell them what is happening.

Look at bank account statements for any items on there that you do not remember paying for or ordering. Phone your bank straight away and get them to check it out for you.

Also check out:

www.getsafeonline.org.uk

www.knowthenet.org.uk/knowledge-centre/identity-theft