Protect Yourself From Identity Fraud

It’s one of the country’s fastest growing crimes – but how do you stop someone from stealing your personal details and using them to get credit in your name? There are a number of ways in which you can help to defend yourself – and your finances – from identity fraud.

The electoral roll is used by lenders to verify that you live where you say you do – if you’re already registered, an identity thief will be unable to register in your name. If you haven’t already done so, protect yourself by contacting your local council to register to vote.

An unidentified or suspicious transaction is often one of the first signs of ID fraud. Ensure you thoroughly check your credit card and bank statements for unusual entries. Your credit report can also indicate that someone is using your identity to apply for credit, so check it regularly for applications you didn’t make or accounts you didn’t open. You can view your free credit report online by signing up to a credit monitoring service that will alert you every time there’s a change that could indicate fraud.

If you have had key items stolen, such as credit cards or your passport, report these to the police and any other relevant organisations in order to warn them of potentially fraudulent activity in your name. Thieves may also intercept mail to steal vital information so if any of your mail is going missing, notify the Post Office immediately, and ensure you have mail forwarded when you move.

If you go away on holiday, arrange for your post to be collected regularly to avoid it being stolen and used to commit Identity theft.

An old catalogue with your name, address and account number on it could be useful to fraudsters so ensure that you don’t throw away anything containing personal information that could be used to steal your identity. If in doubt, shred it. Also avoid carrying important documents around unless you really need them. Your passport, driving licence and payment cards can all be used by criminals, so make sure they are kept in a safe place.

Several criminal ploys exist to get hold of your personal details, including cold calls and unsolicited e-mails, so be wary of sharing confidential information with anybody. This includes PINs, bank account details and passwords.

What’s more, steer clear of opening attachments to unsolicited e-mails or visiting dubious-looking web sites – they could contain a virus that will steal important data from your hard disk. Always make sure your computer is protected by installing the latest security patches and anti-virus software on your computer. Increasingly popular social networking sites are ideal for Identity thieves as they can use personal details such as your full address, date of birth, children’s and pet’s names to obtain your password or PIN.

In summary, to protect yourself from ID thieves, use the tips above to ensure that you keep your confidential information secure and stay on top of ID fraud by checking your credit report on a regular basis.

Isla Campbell writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.

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