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Protecting Yourself From Identity Fraud.


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by Benedict Rohan

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Your identity is extremely valuable. You need it to prove who you are
for various purposes in your day-to-day life, such as opening a bank
account, obtaining a loan, getting a credit card, purchasing goods or
services, applying for a passport or driving licence, or claiming
benefits. If a criminal gets hold of your personal details, they can do
exactly the same things in your name without your knowledge. And it's
not rare for this to happen - the problem of identity theft is
increasing all the time and the Home Office estimates that it costs the
UK economy £1.7 billion a year.


It's therefore extremely important to keep your personal information
safe. There are lots of things you can do to protect yourself from
identity fraud. This practical factsheet provides some useful tips and
information on how to do this.


Ways in which your identity might be stolen


  • A house burglary in which personal documents are stolen.

  • Handbag or wallet theft.

  • Fraudulent internet or phone banking scams in which you
    inadvertently give out personal details to fraudsters in the belief
    that you are being contacted by a legitimate organisation such as your
    own bank.

  • Post in your name being delivered to a previous address of yours
    and used to commit fraud in your name.

  • Having your post stolen or redirected without your permission.

  • Internal systems fraud - for example, payroll data from employees
    of the Government Tax Credit Office was stolen in 2005 and their
    details used to falsely claim benefits.

  • Criminals raking through your rubbish to find personal
    information.

  • How will you know when your identity has been stolen?


  • Often people first find out about it when they are refused credit
    because their credit rating has dropped.

  • You're not receiving any post at all, or key documents or letters
    you have been expecting do not arrive.

  • You receive bills or invoices for goods that you didn't purchase.

  • There are some transactions on your bank account that you don't
    recognise.

  • You have received solicitors letters or letters from debt
    collectors that have nothing to do with you.

  • You apply for benefits and are told that you are already claiming.

  • You receive correspondence from a government agency demanding
    repayment of benefits when you have never claimed anything in the first
    place.

  • Who loses out?


  • You - your credit rating could be damaged and you might find it
    difficult to obtain credit in the future. You will also have to prove
    to the organisations demanding payment from you that you are not
    responsible for them.

  • The government - the public purse suffers from billions of pounds
    worth of fraudulent tax and benefit claims every year.

  • Financial organisations - the companies with whom your details have
    been falsely used to obtain money may never be able to recover what was
    stolen in your name.

  • How to protect yourself against identity fraud


  • Don't throw anything containing your name and address and/or
    other
    personal details into the bin without shredding it first. This includes
    bills, bank statements, benefits statements, receipts and even unwanted
    post and junk mail.

  • Always let your bank and other organisations of which you are a
    customer know when you move house.

  • Don't use your mother's maiden name as a security password

  • Check your credit rating with each of the three UK credit
    agencies
    at least once a year. (These are Experian, Equifax and Call Credit.)

  • Don't use the same password for all accounts.

  • If you're worried that someone else could easily intercept your
    post, arrange to collect important items rather than have them posted
    to you, e.g. credit cards or cheque books from your bank.

  • Cancel stolen credit cards immediately.

  • Contact the DVLA or the Passport Agency immediately if your
    driving licence or passport have been stolen.

  • Don't give out your credit card numbers or other personal
    information over the phone if people nearby could overhear.

  • Check your bank and other financial statements
    regularly to check for suspicious transactions.

  • If you receive a phone call or email from what seems to be a
    legitimate organisation requesting personal details, check it's genuine
    before proceeding. The best approach is to take their phone number and
    call them back. Banks will never ask you for your PIN or login details
    for their banking system.

  • Ensure your computer is safe for making online transactions - get
    anti-virus software and a good firewall for protection, and only ever
    enter personal details onto secure sites (with the prefix https in the
    address).

  • What to do if your identity has been stolen


  • Contact the organisations with whom the fraud has been committed
    to explain what has happened.

  • Inform the police.

  • Get in touch with the Royal Mail if you suspect your mail has
    been intercepted.

  • Contact CIFAS, the UK's fraud protection agency, and register
    with their protection service to help prevent future fraud.

  • Get credit reports from the three credit checking agencies to
    identify exactly what has been done in your name.

  • Information About The Author

    Biography: Author: Benedict Rohan Website: http://www.mortgagenation.co.uk Benedict Rohan works as a freelance finance writer. Commercial Mortgage, Homeowner Loans, Remortgages


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    Back to article category: Identity Theft

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