Identity theft: how to avoid fraud?

There are hundreds of thousands of victims of identity theft in France. To obtain recognition of this fraud, which leads to them being registered with the Banque de France, they have to go through a veritable obstacle course. How do you get out of it?


What is identity theft?

Identity theft is the use of personal data to identify an individual without his or her consent. Once stolen, this information can be used to :

  • damage its reputation,
  • carry out financial transactions,
  • or to commit reprehensible acts in its name.

Impersonators are very imaginative when it comes to achieving their goals. Data can be stolen by hacking, or by posing as a well-known private or public organization in order to create a climate of trust.

Sharp rise in identity theft cases

In 2020, the CNIL recorded a 12% increase in accesses to Ficoba, a national file that records the opening, modification and closing of bank accounts, following a +40% rise the previous year. More specifically, 2,550 requests were made in the first half of 2021, compared with 1,500 for the same period in 2020, an increase of 70%.

Victims can consult Ficoba to obtain information on their bank accounts: references with RIB, BIC and IBAN numbers, nature of the account, name and address of the banks with which they were opened. However, the file does not allow consultation of transactions (withdrawals, payments, transfers, etc.) or account balances. Ten years after closure, accounts are deleted from the Ficoba database.

Recourse in the event of identity theft

Victims of identity theft usually find themselves registered with the Banque de France, and denied access to banking services for several years. Filing a complaint allows the fraud to be reported to the Banque de France. However, this does not have the effect of lifting the registration, unless the victim requests it and the originating bank responds favorably. So, while this notice prevents the counterfeiter from continuing to open accounts under the stolen identity, it may also lead the bank to prefer not to enter into any further contracts with the victim.

As a general rule, in the event of identity theft, it is advisable to collect all evidence of the offence (screenshots, URLs of the pages concerned, supporting documents, etc.). It is then possible to turn to the site(s) on which the fraud may have been committed to request the deletion of personal information. The government'sassistance platformfor victims of cyber-malware helps them find an organization able to guide them through the process within their geographical area.