Your data and privacy has never been more valuable. In our always on, connected world it is increasingly important to safeguard your details from prying eyes and potential identity theft and fraud.

Whether it’s a stolen bill, lost credit card or simply your name and address, criminals can use your details to open new bank accounts, order goods, get passports and driving licences – and even take over your existing accounts.

But don’t worry too much. There are easy steps you can take to help secure your information and protect your identity.

A good place to start

  • Don’t throw anything out with your name, address or financial details on without shredding it first.
  • Be aware of phishing scams and unsolicited calls from your bank. Never reveal your password, login details or account numbers over the phone. Banks will never ask for your pin, or for a whole security number or password.
  • If you move house, ask Royal Mail to redirect your post for at least a year.
  • Check your bank statements regularly and report anything suspicious to the bank or financial services provider concerned.
  • Check your credit score. Services such as Experian and Equifax offer services that will show you any searches performed by a lender against your name and when they occurred. If anything is unusual or for accounts you don’t have, contact the relevant organisations immediately.

Be on your guard online

If you regularly shop and bank online, you’ll no doubt have a lot of account numbers, names and passwords floating around. It goes without saying, that your password should be a unique mix of letters and numbers that you should change regularly. And yet, unsurprisingly, many people still use words or numbers such as ‘password’ or ‘123456’ as their passwords.

Wherever possible, we recommend clearing your login and passwords on a regular basis, especially if you work on a public computer. And whenever you’re shopping online for high value items (such as furniture or flights), try to pay with a credit card, which will come with better guarantees and protection that debit cards.

Think carefully about the information you carry around with you on a daily basis too. Whether it’s business or personal, you’re ultimately the guardian of your data. But thanks to stealth technologies such as OFF Pocket™ it is even possible now to protect your tablets and smartphones from data tracking and manipulation while you’re on the move with a simple case.

If the worst happens

It can be a hugely stressful time if you become the victim of identity theft and fraud, but acting calmly and logically can have you back in control of you in no time.

  • Act quickly! Report any stolen or missing credit and debit cards to your bank as soon as possible. This will ensure they will be cancelled and new versions issued immediately. The same goes for any important documentation such as passports and driving licences.
  • If you suspect your mail is being stolen or that a mail redirection has been fraudulently set up on your address, get in touch with Royal Mail Customer Services as soon as possible.
  • Get a copy of your credit report and flag any unusual or unknown credit applications.
  • Keep your personal documents in a safe place at home, preferably in a lockable drawer, cabinet or safe. And consider storing any valuable financial documents (like share certificates) in a safety deposit box or with your bank.

Think like a thief

It seems like a strange point to finish on, but it’s not a bad way to approach safeguarding your identity. Before you throw away that unwanted post or sell your old technology, take time to think about what information it contains and whether it holds value for someone else to manipulate and use. It’s a simple thing to do that can go a long way to protecting you from becoming a victim of fraud.