Am I a victim of ID theft?

"I have been notified of a CIFAS (the UK’s fraud prevention service) alert on my Equifax credit file. The category is for a “victim of impersonation” and the alert relates to a place I rented for just six months seven years ago.

"The name in the alert is not mine, but it’s on my file. Does this mean the person named on the application is trying to steal my identity using this address or are they the victim of a potential identity theft and now living at my old address?

"I used the postal redirection service when I moved, but this was only for a couple of months. I have not noticed any unauthorised use of my credit cards or bank accounts and have not personally applied for credit recently. Should I be concerned and, if so, what can I do?"

Ask the Professionals: Frances Walker, spokeswoman for charity the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, says:

CIFAS exists to prevent and detect fraud. When you apply for an account or facility, the “victim of impersonation” warning tells the CIFAS member organisation (to whom you are applying) when it is evaluating your application that a third party has previously used – and perhaps may use this address fraudulently.

The company processing the application will then make extra checks to validate the application and be sure it is genuinely dealing with you and not a fraudster. This helps protect against identity theft.

The credit reference agencies (such as Equifax) used by lenders have address--–linked products that will have recorded that you lived at this address seven years ago. Future credit applications by you should not be affected by a CIFAS warning in someone else’s name.

These warnings simply exist to encourage lenders to take care at addresses where fraud has happened before. To answer your question, it is the named person now living at your old address who is a potential victim of identity theft, 
not you. 

There is unlikely to be a problem for you, given that CIFAS has flagged up the potential for fraud and highlighted the name of the person whose identity is possibly being misused. Your lenders are aware of the situation and the chances of you having your identity stolen are significantly reduced.

For more information, contact CIFAS via its website - You should also contact Equifax to obtain a disassociation form or notice of correction. A disassociation form removes a link between you and someone else. Remember, if you want every credit reference agency to hold the correct data on you, you must contact each one individually.

Financial information about previous occupants of your home has no bearing on your creditworthiness unless you are financially linked to them. If your credit score has been affected by something that you feel was unavoidable or is factually incorrect, you can explain this in a notice of correction.

This is your opportunity to put your point across to lenders when they are considering your creditworthiness, and it will remain on your credit file until you ask for its removal.

More about