How easy is it to steal a friend’s identity?

Equifax urges individuals to think about everywhere they share personal information as new BBC TV drama shows how easy it could be to steal a friend’s identity

New BBC TV drama ‘Trust Me’ focuses on a nurse who steals a friend’s identity to win a job as a doctor. While this is a work of fiction, identity fraud expert Equifax is urging people to think about how easy it would be for friends or associates to steal their identity by gathering useful facts from social media.

“While the lead character in the drama uses her friend’s CV to get a new job, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for her to access other personal information via social media sites”, explained Lisa Hardstaff, identity fraud expert at Equifax.

“We conducted research amongst consumers last year and found that there’s still a lack of awareness among consumers that they need to be cautious about what information they put on social media and the privacy settings they use to limit access to that information. It seems that the youngest generations are the most naïve when it comes to this.”

The Equifax-commissioned YouGov survey of 2,000 adults found that only just over half (51%) strongly agreed that sharing personal information such as full names, phone numbers and home addresses on social media websites would increase their risk of identity fraud. Just over a third (37%) tended to agree with the statement. But 5% tended to disagree or strongly disagree and 7% said they didn't know. And the numbers increased amongst the younger generations, with 18% of 18-24 year olds disagreeing, strongly disagreeing or not knowing whether sharing personal information on social media websites would increase their risk of identity fraud.

Over half (57%) of adults in Great Britain surveyed also admitted to being very worried or fairly worried about being a victim of a facility or account takeover, which is the act of obtaining enough personal details such as account numbers, passwords, usernames to bypass security on existing accounts.

“Victims of ID fraud often don’t know anything is wrong until they get an unexpected bill or see money missing from their account” continued Lisa Hardstaff. “By that time, the fraudsters are long gone. However, a monitoring service like Equifax Identity Watch Pro will alert an individual to activity on their credit report. This allows them to take immediate steps if they identify anything suspicious, to protect themselves from identity theft.

We always encourage consumers to think about the security of their personal data, treating it as carefully, as they would cash. Fraudsters only need a few key pieces of information to steal someone’s identity and open fraudulent accounts in their name. Consumers should take great care where and how they share their personal information.


  • Shred those receipts: Don’t carry lots of receipts in wallets, purses and bags, as this can offer fraudsters some of the information they need.
  • Watch your wallet: Handbag and wallet thieves want your credit cards and personal documents, not your cash, so keep your belongings close.
  • Leave home without your cards: Only carry the cards you need to limit the damage if you are a victim of theft.
  • Don’t carry personal documents: Passports, statements and other personal documents are top of a fraudster’s Christmas wish list. Leave them at home.
  • Be smart with your smartphone: Protect your phone with a password to secure all the personal information it contains.
  • Don’t give away your information: Remove information from the hard drive of any old devices before selling or disposing of them.
  • Use virus protection: Keep hackers at bay by protecting your devices with a firewall and virus protection.
  • Monitor your credit report: Regularly review your credit file to look out for any unauthorised activity.

Equifax Identity Watch Pro includes WebDetect, which alerts individuals if their financial details are shared on websites used by fraudsters. Subscribers also get alerts within 24 hours of significant changes to their credit report. These allows them to take swift action to reduce the potential damage of fraud. The service costs £9.95 per month.

*YouGov survey, May 2016 of 2060 adults in Great Britain


For further press information, please contact: Clare Watson, Cecile Stearn, Parm Heer or Wendy Harrison at HSL on 020 8977 9132 / Fax: 020 8977 5200 or Email:

About Equifax

Equifax, Inc. ("Equifax") powers the financial future of individuals and organizations around the world. Using the combined strength of unique trusted data, technology and innovative analytics, Equifax has grown from a consumer credit company into a leading provider of insights and knowledge that helps its customers make informed decisions. The company organizes, assimilates and analyses data on more than 800 million consumers and more than 88 million businesses worldwide, and its databases include employee data contributed from more than 5,000 employers.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., Equifax operates or has investments in 24 countries in North America, Central and South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. It is a member of Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500® Index, and its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. Equifax employs approximately 9,200 employees worldwide.

Some noteworthy achievements for the company include: Ranked 13 on the American Banker FinTech Forward list (2015); named a Top Technology Provider on the FinTech 100 list (2004-2015); named an InformationWeek Elite 100 Winner (2014-2015); named a Top Workplace by Atlanta Journal Constitution (2013-2015); named one of Fortune's World's Most Admired Companies (2011-2015); named one of Forbes' World's 100 Most Innovative Companies (2015). For more information, visit

Equifax Limited is one of the Equifax group companies based in the UK.

Equifax Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.