ID fraud is one of Britain’s fastest growing crimes and if you fall victim, you could find yourself in serious financial chaos.
According to the British Crime Survey, there were 2.8m fraudulent card transactions last year, an increase of 4% year-on-year. The results also showed the cost of card identity theft has risen by 39%, to £47.4m.
With more and more people falling victim to ID fraud, it’s crucial we all start taking better care of our identities.
1. Be vigilant
It’s crucial that you regularly check your bank balance and monitor exactly where your money goes. This will help you spot any dodgy dealings or fraudulent activity as quickly as possible.
It’s also a good idea to obtain a copy of your credit report to ensure no accounts have been illegally set up in your name.
2. Keep your documents safe
Make sure you keep any documents containing personal details such as utilities bills, wage slips, bank statements or your passport in a safe place.
It’s best to avoid carrying important documents around with you unless it’s absolutely necessary and never leave anything containing your personal details unattended in your car.
3. Shred unwanted documents
Fraudsters know no shame, and wouldn’t think twice about going through your rubbish to look for documents containing personal details.
Often documents you may not consider important, such as an old telephone bill or insurance policy, carry just the information a fraudster is looking for.
Last year, a bin raiding survey commissioned for National Identity Fraud Prevention Week showed that an alarming 79% of household waste contained at least one or more items which could assist someone in stealing an identity.
Therefore, it’s vital you shred all your documents to ensure no one can get their hands on your personal details.
4. Guard your cards
It’s a good idea to limit the number of credit and debit cards you keep in your wallet and only carry with you what you’ll need for that day.
Don’t let cashiers and restaurant staff take your card out of sight and keep your eyes peeled for anything suspicious when using ATM machines.
If you do lose your wallet or handbag, make sure you call your card provider and cancel your cards immediately.
Finally, try to memorise your pin number and avoid writing it down. If you are unfortunate enough to fall victim to ID fraud and your bank finds out you kept a copy of your pin close to your cards, they may consider this negligence and refuse to reimburse you for any losses you suffer.
5. Protect your post
If you move home, remember to ask Royal Mail to redirect your mail. If you don’t, your personal information could end up being delivered directly to a fraudster’s doorstep!
Keep an eye on when your bills are due to arrive. If they turn up late, contact your bank or credit card provider straight away to ensure your post hasn’t been intercepted.
If you share a flat or your post is delivered to a communal area, make sure your mail is secure until you can collect it. And, if you need to post important documents, it may be worth paying a little extra for recorded delivery to ensure your package arrives safely.
6. Don’t give out information over the phone
Be on your guard when you receive phone calls from people claiming to be your bank, and make sure you never give out personal information or passwords to a caller who can’t prove their identity.
When you do receive this type of call it’s a good idea to find out your bank or credit card provider’s listed telephone number, then ring them back so you know it’s not a scam.
7. Be safe online
Ensure your computer has a strong security system and up to date anti-virus software.
Be wary of publishing any personal information such as your date of birth or address on popular websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo. Make sure you use strong passwords with a mix of numbers and letters, and keep any computer or website login details safe.
You should find using a modern web browser will help protect you against phishing scams: identity theft via email.
A phishing email may ask you to click on a link and enter your bank or credit card account details on a genuine-looking website – usually to ‘protect against fraud’, ‘update your details’ or claim a fictitious prize. Although the web page you land on may look real, in fact it will have been created by fraudsters to trick you into revealing information.
When it comes to paying for purchases online, always check for the padlock at the bottom of your screen. The web address at the top of the screen may also change from ‘http’ to ‘https’; the ‘s’ stands for secure.
8. Identity theft insurance
Nowadays, there are many companies that offer ID theft insurance. These policies are designed to cover the cost of restoring your identity. Also, they usually provide free credit reports, passport and driving license cover and assistance from an identity theft expert.
ID fraud insurance does not cover you for any financial loss you might suffer as a result of ID fraud.
Remember, as long as it cannot be proved you acted negligently, your bank or credit card provider should refund you any money you lose as a result of fraud.