Ban periods for identity theft

Identity theft is when someone uses your personal information to fraudulently obtain credit for themselves. Consumers often become aware of identity theft when they notice a debt on their credit report which is not theirs, or a credit provider demands payment of a debt that is not theirs.

If you believe someone has fraudulently used your personal information, you should:

  1. call each credit reporting body to tell them about the identity theft and ask them to put a 'ban' in place, which only they can do.
  2. contact your local police station.

During a ban period, the credit reporting body can not share your credit report with credit providers unless you provide consent for them to do so in writing or if they are required to by law. If a credit provider requests your credit report to assess your application for credit, the credit reporting body must explain there is a ban in place and will not provide the report to the credit provider unless you have consented. If you have consented in writing, the credit reporting body may provide a copy of your report to the credit provider, or directly to you, depending on their processes for handling requests during ban periods. The initial ban period is 21 days, but can be extended if needed.

A credit provider can also wait until the ban period has expired to process any application you make for credit. This will depend on each credit provider’s policies, so it is best to check with your credit provider.

A ban period may prevent accounts being fraudulently opened in your name, if there is a concern that your identity has been stolen or fraudulently used. For more information about how this could occur, and how ban periods work, see case study 3 Betty and the lost handbag