Identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s personally identifying information, such as their name, identifying number, or credit card number without their permission to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft can result in serious financial difficulties with loss of money, debt, and a poor credit rating among these.
How to reduce the risk of identity theft:
- Store any documents carrying personal information – such as your driving licence, passport, bank statements, utility bills or credit card transaction receipts – in a safe and secure place.
- Shred or destroy your old documents so that nothing showing your name, address or other personal details can be taken.
- Monitor your credit report and regularly check your credit card and bank statements for suspicious activity.
- When you move house, contact your bank, credit and store card providers, mobile phone provider, utility providers, TV licencing, your doctor and dentist etc., and give them your new address – you don’t want the new tenants to have access to letters containing your personal information. You can also redirect your mail by contacting Royal Mail.
- Remember, less is more. The less you give away about yourself, the lower the risk of information falling into the wrong hands.
- Think before you buy online – use a secure website which displays the company’s contact details, look for a padlock symbol before the website address as well as a clear privacy and returns policy. Check the web address begins with ‘https//’.
- Don’t click on any links on an email that you are not expecting or looks suspicious
- If you receive any post/correspondence not meant for you, return it to the sender rather than disposing of it – whilst this could be innocent it is also a key fraud indicator for identity theft.
What to do if you think you’re a victim of identity theft:
- If you think you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, act quickly to ensure you are not liable for any financial losses.
- Report all lost or stolen documents, such as passports, driving licences, credit cards and cheque books to the organisation that issued them.
- Inform your bank, building society and credit card company any unusual transactions on your statement.
- Request a copy of your credit file to check for any suspicious credit applications.
- Report the theft of personal documents and suspicious credit applications to the police and ask for a crime reference number.
- You can report any suspicious emails, texts or phone calls at the Action Fraud website or telephone number. Action Fraud is the central UK police organisation for reporting all UK frauds. Visit online or call 0300 123 2040.