Identity (ID) Theft

What is ID Theft (ID Fraud)?

A criminal steals your identity, creates accounts in your name (bank or credit cards) and uses them to run up bills, takes out loans or services but leaves you to foot the bill. It can be as simple as going through your rubbish bags, finding your old letters and bank statements and then applying for financial products using your details.

They often get additional personal information from insecure social media (Facebook, Twitter etc).

Should you be worried about ID Fraud?

It’s a nightmare to sort out, and can leave you out of pocket. ID theft can also lead to unpleasant encounters with debt collectors, court actions and problems getting a mortgage. It’s usually stressful as well as time-consuming.

However, while it is important to be concerned, taking sensible precautions should make you safe. And, crucially, as long as you can demonstrate that you have taken precautions and not been careless or negligent and divulged or allowed access to sensitive information, such as your PIN, there is a good prospect of getting your money back – eventually. What is sensible? Not using a PIN that is easy to guess (0000, 1234, birthday), having good antivirus and a strong password.

  • Keep your PIN safe
  • Buy a cross cut shredder (£20)
  • Be secure online (see our articles on online scams and online security: see also phone fraud)
  • Lock your smartphone (remember your smartphone is a computer that can make phone calls. Financial transactions and private information are potentially more at risk because you are probably less aware of the risks on your phone than on your computer)
  • Regularly check your bank statements (easy to do if you bank online)
  • Use a credit reference agency to regularly (at least once a year) check your reference files. Do it immediately if you suspect a fraud.

For more details go here. Find more about what it is, how to avoid it and what to do if you fall victim to this fraud.