What is Identity theft?
Your identity and personal information are valuable. Criminals can find out your personal details and use them to open bank accounts and get credit cards, loans, state benefits and documents such as passports and driving licenses in your name.
How Can Your Identity Be Stolen?
Bin raiding – Fraudsters pay people to go through the rubbish you throw out, looking for bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, and tax information.
Card skimming – This usually occurs when a shop assistant or waiter, for example, gets your information by ‘skimming’ or copying your credit card information when you make a purchase. They often then sell the information to professional criminal gangs.
Internet Sites – Anybody that uses the internet will regularly be asked to share personal information to gain access to websites and buy goods. Fraudsters can combine the personal information you provide to unsecured internet sites such as your mother’s maiden name with other bits of valuable information they glean about you to obtain credit in your name
Phishing – This term describes identity theft via email. Fraudsters will send an email claiming to be from a bank, credit card company or other organisation, with which you might have a relationship, asking for urgent information.
Theft Of Wallet Or Purse – the average purse or wallet contains bank cards, credit cards and valuable identity documents including driving licenses and membership cards. Victims realise very quickly that their wallet has been stolen but often do not realise the value of the information contained within it until it is too late.
Unsolicited Contact – Phone calls claiming to be from banks asking you to update your personal information should be regarded with caution. Calling the switchboard of the company in question and asking to be put through to the person who called you will help ensure you are not playing into the hands of fraudsters
Things to look out for
You may become a victim of identity theft if:
- You have lost or had stolen important documents such as your passport or driving licence
- Post expected from your bank has not arrived or you are receiving no post at all
You may already be a victim of identity theft if:
- You identify entries on your personal credit file from organisations you do not normally deal with items have appeared on your bank or credit-card statements that you do not recognise
- you applied for a state benefit but are told that you are already claiming
- You receive bills, invoices or receipts addressed to you for goods or services you haven’t asked for you have been refused a financial service, such as a credit card or a loan, despite having a good credit history
- A mobile-phone contract has been set up in your name without your knowledge
- You have received letters from solicitors or debt collectors for debts that aren’t yours financial institutions that you do not normally deal with contact you to chase an outstanding debt.
Guidance for victims
- The first step is to report the fraud to your nearest police station.
- If you have had your wallet or purse stolen contact your bank/building society and credit card provider immediately to cancel any cards.
- Even if not all your accounts have been affected it is worth flagging the fact that you have been a victim of identity fraud to other lenders, banks etc so they can monitor your accounts more closely and ensure that the thieves do not access these too..
- Protect yourself moving forward. Invest in a confetti cut shredder and destroy all documents before recycling or binning them.
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