Identity theft is an ever growing issue and if you are a victim can cause endless stress and worry to sort out, we take a look at 3 steps you can take to help protect yourself from fraudsters.
1. Keep Personal Information Safe
Personal information includes such as your name, address, date of birth, phone numbers, bank details and national insurance details.
Just to conduct your every day lives you need to regularly give out this information but remember it is your personal information – protect it!
Taking simple steps can help, for example
- shred documents that contain personal details before putting them in the bin
- file documents that contain personal information (e.g. passport, credit card or bank statements, utility bills) in a safe place
- don’t leave personal information in ‘portable’ places e.g. in the car or handbags
- redirect all your mail if you move house. Make sure you let key organisations that hold your personal information know your new address, including the bank, building societies, credit card providers, utility providers, council , DVLA and TV Licensing.
If criminals do get hold of your personal information, they then can easily use it to apply for credit cards and bank accounts using your identity.
With identity fraud becoming so prevalent, you can buy identity fraud protection insurance, to help, should your details find their way into criminal hands.
2. Protect Yourself Online
Every time you enter your personal information online you could be unwittingly giving this information to fraudsters. You need to take simple precautions to protect your information.
For example, if you use your computer to make an online payment, make sure you are using a secure server.
You can tell if this is the case as if so there will be a small padlock icon in the bottom right hand coner as you are making the payment. Also the website page address should being with ‘https’.
If either of these are missing then you are not protected and you should consider buying from elsewehere.
Also protect your computer with a suitable firewall and make sure you have up to date anti-virus and anti-spyware software on it.
If your PC is getting clunky (technical term!) and needs replacing or you just fancy a new one, make sure you don’t leave personal information on your old PC.
Just think about the amount of emails we generate – you might not be passing your Bank Account details but you could have a lot of personal information in them, very useful for criminals to gain an insight into you, your family and general lifestyle.
Then there are all the letters and correspondence you’ve generated in Word. What about your budget details in Excel?
3. Regulary Check Your Credit Report
Your credit report is a key source of information for both yourself and for lenders.
Within the report, your credit account information shows details of your credit agreements with lenders. It covers everything that you are using today but for which you will repay the lender at a later date.
For this reason, as well as credit cards, loans and mortgages, your credit report will also include details on such as utility accounts, mobile phone accounts and shopping catalogues as well.
So the repot helps you control your finances and helps lenders to decide whether to lend to you or not.
As recommended by the Home Office, regular checks on your credit report can help porotect yourself against identity theft. If you spot unknown accounts or credit checks then you can raise this promptly with the lenders and the authorities.