Identity fraud is often quoted as ‘Britain’s fastest growing crime.’
It involves the misuse of an individual’s personal details in order to commit crime. These personal details are very valuable and they can be misused or sold on to others.
Victims of identity fraud often report a great deal of stress and cost in trying to clear matters up after the fraudulent use of their personal information. Many never establish exactly how their details were obtained.
Protecting your address:
If you start to receive post for someone you don’t know, find out why.
Register to vote at your current address (lenders use the electoral roll to check who is registered as living at a particular address).
When registering to vote, tick the box to opt out of the ‘Edited’ register to prevent unsolicited marketing mail. (This does not affect credit checks.)
Sign up with the Mail Preference Service to prevent marketing letters. (Details on how to do this are at the back of the booklet.)
Protect mail left in communal areas of residential properties.
Re-direct your mail when moving home.
Protecting your bank accounts:
Be extremely wary of unsolicited phone calls, letters or emails from your bank, or other financial institution, asking you to confirm your personal details, passwords and security numbers.
Regularly check your accounts and chase up any statements and that are not delivered when expected.
Dispose of anything containing your personal or banking details by using a cross cut shredder or tearing up into small pieces.
Always sign up to American Express SafeKey, MasterCard SecureCode or Verified by Visa when you receive your cards, even if you do not intend to use your cards online. This helps to protect you if your card or details are lost or stolen.
If you think someone is misusing your bank account details then report it to your bank.
Protecting your phone:
Never reply to unsolicited texts, e.g. texts referring to accident claims, even to try and get them stopped. Simply delete them.
Sign up to the Telephone Preference Service to prevent marketing phone calls. Details on how to do this are at the back of the booklet.
If using a ‘smart’ phone install anti-virus software on it.
Protecting your computer:
Keep your computer security programs, such as antivirus and firewall, up to date. Also make sure your web browser and operating system are the latest version. If unsure how to do this contact a computer specialist.
Be wary of opening links on unsolicited emails you receive. They may contain viruses or other programs that may harm your computer.
Know how to verify secure web sites if making financial transactions. You can do this by looking at the address line. Normally it will start with http but when you log into a secure site this will change to https. for example; http://www.mybank.com is the address of mybank, but if you want to go to the transactions page you log in and the address bar will change to something like https://mybank/login.com The address bar may also change colour. A padlock will also appear in either the bottom left or bottom right corner of your browser bar, not on the website.
If you have received an email claiming to be from your bank, asking that you contact them, think about whether or not it is genuine. If you are unsure do not click on any links in the email. Open another window in your browser and visit your bank’s website using your normal method.
Check the online banking security options your bank provides, some offer free anti-virus and browser security software.
If you think that you are a victim of identity fraud - act quickly
- Do not ignore the problem - it might not be you that has ordered some goods or opened an account, but the debt falls to your name and address.
- Inform the card issuer or other financial institution concerned as soon as possible.
- Do not destroy the card if it is still in your possession - keep it as evidence.
- Identify fraudulent transactions as soon as possible. Inform the companies involved if possible.
- Inform the police if you have lost money directly or can identify a suspect. Card companies pass information relating to transactions on compromised cards directly to the Police.
- Obtain a copy of your credit report from a credit reference agency.
- Sign up with the CIFAS Protective Registration Service online or call 0330 1000 180 (local rate).