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What is identity fraud?

Identity fraud involves the misuse of your personal information such as your name, address, date of birth, passport photo, or social security number. Fraudsters can use your identity to shop online without paying, borrow money and disappear, or take out a phone subscription and run off with the latest phone. They can steal your identity information through online ads or phishing emails.


  • Secure your digital accounts. Use safe passwords, install the latest updates, use a good virus scanner, and don’t click on links carelessly.
  • Be cautious when sharing your data and documents. Be wary of online purchases or sales, don’t send copies of your identity document or bank card, and don’t click on links in emails leading to a login page.
  • Be mindful of what you share on social media. Don’t publicly share photos of your passport, identity card, or driver’s license. Also, don’t share your phone number or email address publicly.
  • Handle your mail with care. Don’t leave your mail in your mailbox for too long, and shred important documents before throwing them away.  Scammers fish mail out of your mailbox. This is called ‘dumpster diving’. Scammers can also fish letters from the Tax Authorities, pay slips, annual statements, or insurance papers out of your mailbox.
    Even if you dispose of or sell your old computer, tablet, or phone, it could fall into the wrong hands.
  • Stay vigilant to phone or door-to-door scams. Scammers are masters at gaining your trust. They call you and pretend to be a bank employee. Or as an employee of a computer company who wants to ‘fix’ a so-called ‘problem’ with your computer over the phone. Without realizing it, you give away your login details. Or you give the scammer access to your computer. Or you give the scammer your bank passes at the door.
  • Be aware of your digital footprint. Be careful with what you share online and regularly check what information about you is available on the internet.
  • Use your social security number wisely. Only give it to organizations that need it and have a legal basis for its use. Ask why it’s needed if you’re unsure.
  • Be cautious with your login credentials for banks or government services. Don’t share your username and password, and don’t leave them around for others to find. Always log out when you’re done.
  • Be alert to phishing. Don’t click on links in emails or text messages from unknown senders. Always check the sender’s email address and the URL of the website.
  • Protect your mobile devices. Use a strong password, install updates, and don’t install apps from unknown sources. Be careful with public Wi-Fi networks.


  • Fraud with identity document: You might find a bank account, phone subscription, loan, credit card, or residence registered in your name that you know nothing about. You might receive angry messages from people who see you as a scammer or the police might suspect you of something you didn’t do.
  • Fraud with login credentials: You might see unknown transactions or changes in your bank or government service accounts. You might discover that your data has been changed without your knowledge.
  • Fraud with personal data: You might receive packages that you didn’t order, or letters or emails from collection agencies or bailiffs about debts you know nothing about.


  • If you suspect fraud with your identity document, report identity fraud to the National Identity Fraud Reporting Center and file a report with the police. Consider replacing your document if you think a copy has fallen into the hands of a scammer.
  • If you suspect fraud with your login credentials for banks or government services, check if someone else has logged into your accounts. Contact the helpdesk if you see unfamiliar activity or if you’ve filled in login data on a fake website.
  • If your personal data has been used for orders and you receive the bill, contact the company or the collection agency that sends you the bill. Ask for as much evidence as possible to prove that there is identity fraud.


If you’re a victim of identity fraud, report it to the police and the National Identity Fraud Reporting Center. The center can help you stop the misuse and recover from the consequences. If you can’t resolve it with the involved organizations, the center can support by mediating.

Remember, always be alert and make it difficult for fraudsters to misuse your identity.

* It’s always recommended to check with local law enforcement or consumer protection agencies for specific procedures in your country.

Reference Notes:

You may already be aware of my collaboration with the Dutch government and their endorsement of my Information Security PubQuiz. If not, you can read about it here. Regrettably, the government education site that underpins part of my PubQuizzes is not available in English. Therefore, I’ve translated the articles from “” and “” and you can read them on my site. The original source for this article, in Dutch, can be found here.