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Identity fraud is a real and serious threat to all of us today, especially if we don't take steps to protect our identities. It is a crime that affects businesses as well as individuals and in today's climate, none of us can afford the financial or reputational losses which identity fraud can bring.
But don't panic! By managing your information carefully, you can substantially reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of identity fraud. Here are some simple steps you can and should be taking to keep your identity safe...
• Keep your personal information, credit cards, passwords & pin numbers in a safe place (preferably a lockable drawer or safe) & don’t share these details with people or companies you don’t know or trust. If you lose or have your passport or driving license stolen, report it immediately.
• Never throw away bills, receipts, credit or debit card slips, bank statements or even unwanted post without destroying them first, ideally with a cross-cut shredder. Surprisingly 73% of Britons still bin important information without shredding it first.
• Always protect your post, especially if you live in a building where other people can easily access it. When you move house, redirect your mail from your old address to your new one for at least a year.
• Check all your statements and financial records as soon as they arrive & report any discrepancies straight away. If your regular bills or statements stop being delivered, contact the organisation who issues them immediately. In addition if you receive bills or statements for goods, service or benefits, which you have not applied for, again contact the relevant organisation immediately.
• Regularly obtain a copy of your credit report to flag up unusual activity.
• Think about the information you publish online and who you share your details with. Think before publishing phone numbers, workplace / school information, your address, date of birth or full name, and always make sure you use the privacy and security settings on social networking sites. Visit getsafeonline.com for more information.
• Be safe online - If you use the internet make sure you have the latest security patches and up-to-date anti-virus software installed.
Firstly, keep calm but act quickly - don't ignore bills in your name that you haven’t ordered, they are in your name and unless you notify the relevant organisations, you could be at risk of gaining a bad credit rating.
If you think that you have been a victim of identity fraud involving credit/bank cards or online banking, contact your bank immediately and follow their advice.
If you think that your mail has been re-directed, stolen or intercepted, contact Royal Mail. who will be able to help you
Get a copy of your credit file from a credit reference agency like Equifax, Experian or Call Credit.
Contact Action Fraud for more information and to report the crime.
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