Avoid Being a Victim of Identity Fraud

By: Chris Haycock | Posted on: 24 June 2015

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Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal details, and occurs when the stolen personal details are used to commit crimes such as opening accounts, getting credit cards/loans, and applying for state benefits or documents such as driving licences and passports, among others.

According to CIFAS (fraud prevention service in the UK) annual report, frauds increased by 25 percent in 2014 and 40 percent of these were identity fraud.

Further, the number of cases of identity fraud (abuse of personal data/identity details to impersonate an innocent victim or create fictitious identities for the purpose of stealing money) increased by 5 percent from the year before.

London, Birmingham, Leicester, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow have been identified as the crime hotspots.

According to statistics, one in five people in the UK have lost as much as £247 per person per online attack. It is, therefore, important that you guard your identity closely so as not to become a victim of identity fraud.

The aim of this article is to provide you with some information as to how you can avoid being a victim of identity fraud.

How to avoid being a victim of identity fraud

Criminals often steal your identity by taking out documents from the rubbish you throw out or contacting you and pretending that they are from a legitimate organisation. Some of the steps you can take to prevent identity theft are listed below:

1: Passwords - Never use your date of birth in passwords or simply use 'password' as your password. Strongest passwords are those that contain letters, symbols and numbers.

2: Stay secure - Prior to entering payment details online always check if the link is secure by observing the presence of the padlock symbol in the browser window and ensuring that the web address starts with 'https://'.

If you happen to receive an unsolicited phone call or email appearing to be from your building society or bank and asking for security details, never ever divulge your account number, password or login details.

A bank will not ask for either your PIN or password.

3: Always check your statements - Verify the statements to ensure that you have not made any unknown payments. Also, see if the amount debited is correct. Never leave your bills around so that others get a chance to look at them.

4: Destroy documents - Shred all those to-be-discarded documents that contain important personal information prior to putting them in the bin.

If you are expecting a statement either from your bank or credit card provider and it does not arrive on time or reach you at all, inform your bank or the credit card company.

5: Avoid all cold calls - Never hand over personal details or money over the phone to a person with whom you have not had any conversation before.

6: Inform Royal Mail when you move - If you are moving over to another place, request Royal Mail to redirect all your mails for at least one full year.

7: Check your personal credit file two to three 3 months after moving over to the new place.

8: Check your credit report - You can obtain a copy of your credit report once in three months, or at least once a year, for verification.

Three credit reference agencies Callcredit, Equifax and Experian provide the service of checking your credit report and alerting you if there are any important changes on your credit files that indicate whether any potential fraudulent activity has taken place.

9: Use privacy settings - Use privacy settings wherever possible, online and on social networking sites, to make sure that the general public cannot access or view your personal information. This is because it can help criminals gather some information about your identity.

10: Remember essential details - Do not save passwords on your smartphone or forget to cover your PIN at ATMs.

These are some avenues that can lead to identity theft. The best and safest place to keep your passwords is your head.

If you, at any point in time, feel that you have fallen victim to identity fraud, immediately bring it to the notice of Action Fraud, the national centre for reporting fraud in the U.K. You can either call 0300 123 20 40 or visit the office of Action Fraud.

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