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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.
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal details. Identity fraud is when a criminal uses your information without your knowledge to obtain credit, goods or other services fraudulently. The cost to the UK economy is over £1.2 billion but the personal cost to victims is not just financial, it can be a long and traumatic process to reclaim your identity.
Both at home and work we deal with pieces of information on a daily basis that may seem harmless individually, but when pieced together can be very valuable to criminals who could use that information to obtain passports and driving licenses in your name, open bank accounts, get credit cards, loans and state benefits.
Throughout the day, you may be at risk for identity theft at home, when you are out and about and Online. If you know where to look, and how to protect yourself, the chances of becoming a victim become much lower. Essentially, identity thieves are looking for personal details about you, your family or even your business - like your full name, current or previous address, date of birth and other key details like your bank account or credit card details for example.
Here are some examples of the methods identity thieves might use to get your information:
Bin Raiding - Identity thieves may go through the rubbish you throw out. Utility bills, bank and credit card statements and even letters or CV's all carry valuable personal information that can used to steal an identity. Make sure you shred all documents that you wouldn't want to fall into the hands of a stranger.
TIP: Use a cross-cut or micro-cut shredder for ultimate security.
Mail Forwarding - By not asking the postal service to redirect your mail when moving house, you are potentially providing fraudsters with a wealth of information about you delivered direct to their doorstep. Make sure when you change address you get your mail redirected to your new address for at least a year.
Unsolicited Contact - Phone calls claiming to be from banks asking you to update your personal information should be regarded with caution. Also fraudsters posing as market researchers may ask for personal information over the phone. Credible organisations will not mind you double checking their authenticity before providing such information.
Theft Of Wallet Or Purse - The average purse or wallet contains bank cards, credit cards and valuable identity documents including driving licenses and membership cards. Victims realise very quickly that their wallet has been stolen but often do not realise the value of the information contained within it until it is too late.
Card Skimming - This usually occurs when a thief gets your information by 'skimming' or copying your credit card information when you make a purchase. They often then sell the information to professional criminal gangs. Like phishing, skimming can be used on its own to collect enough information to use your card fraudulently without stealing your entire identity.
Personal Information Online - Anybody that uses the internet will regularly be asked to share personal information to gain access to websites and buy goods. Increasingly people are also placing large amounts of personal information about themselves on social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, Linkedin and MySpace. Be cautious about the personal information you broadcast online. Fraudsters often look here for information.
Phishing - This term describes identity theft via email. Fraudsters will send an email claiming to be from a bank, a credit card company or other organisation with which you might have a relationship, asking for urgent information. Typically the email will ask you to click on a link to enter your account details on the company's website to protect against identity fraud or to avoid your account being deactivated. But if you click on the link in the email you will be taken to a website which looks genuine, but has in fact been created by fraudsters to trick you into revealing your private information. The fraudsters then use the information provided to set about obtaining money from your accounts.
Protecting Your Information: Although there are over 4 million victims of identity fraud in the UK alone, there are some very simple steps you can take to help keep your information safe and avoid having your identity stolen. Click here to find out what you should do to keep your ID safe.
Identity Fraud and Your Business: Businesses can also become victims of identity fraud or potentially expose customer or employee information which could lead to identity theft. Again, there are some simple steps your business can take to keep information secure. Click here to find out more.
For information on how to protect yourself online visit getsafeonline.com.
If your identity has been stolen or to report a case of identity fraud, click here.
• Look after your password – never reveal it to anyone and never write it down.
• Keep your work area tidy – this will ensure that you don’t accidentally forget to lock away protectively marked or sensitive material.
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