A guide to protecting yourself against ID fraud
Until you’ve been a victim of identity fraud, you may not think it’ll ever happen to you. However, ID fraud and ID theft takes place every day, so you need to take precautions and remain vigilant to protect yourself, your debit and credit cards and your money.
What is identity fraud?
Identity fraud is when someone uses information about you to borrow money, apply for credit and run up debts in your name. Bank and credit card statements can be used by fraudsters to acquire information about you, as can PINs and passwords, a response to a phishing (spam) email or even the information on your social networking page.
Who is at risk?
ID thieves can target anyone; they really aren’t picky about who they steal from. However, the information services group Experian has identified certain trends in the kinds of people who tend to be targeted. Recent graduates, young renters, young families and well-off people living in large houses are all vulnerable, as are people living in London, which has often been called the identity theft capital of the UK.
How to prevent ID theft
By guarding your personal information and being aware of the risks of identity fraud, you are more likely to prevent it happening to you. Follow these tips:
- After you apply for credit card or debit card products, the lender will usually send you a PIN, password or account details in the post, along with the card itself. If this doesn’t arrive within the allotted time, inform the lender immediately.
- Dispose of any letters or documents containing personal or financial information properly, shredding anything sensitive so that the data can’t be read and used by anyone else
- Check through your monthly statements carefully every month. If there is a transaction that you haven’t made, inform your bank immediately.
- Shield your PIN when using your credit or debit card in shops or cash machines
- Never tell anyone your PIN, even a close friend, family member or partner
- If you lose your card, contact your bank right away to ensure the card is cancelled before anyone can use it
- Protect your mobile phone with a PIN in case it is lost or stolen
- Set the security settings on your social networking accounts to maximum
- Never respond to spam emails asking for personal or financial details, and never click through links in these emails
- Check your credit report, just in case someone has taken out credit using your identity.