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Identity Theft… How to Deal with this New Crime.

Many people are worried about the dramatic increase in Identity Theft and according to recent research we just don’t know how to deal with this new crime.

Identity theft means that another person, without your knowledge is using your personal information. Your identity and personal information are valuable assets. Take action to keep them secure.  

Research statistics show that identity fraud has risen by 400% in the UK in the last five years and a 45% rise in the last year alone.

Identity fraud is the theft of personal information that may be used to obtain loans, credit cards or benefits.This can cause a huge problem for people, especially if their credit rating is affected.

It is estimated that more than 100,000 people are affected by identity theft and fraud in the UK each year, and it costs the British economy over £1.3 billion annually. Criminal activity is involved such as fraud, deception, or obtaining benefits and services in your name.

Criminals search through dustbins, to obtain useful personal information from bank statements, till receipts and junk mail, or they hack into computers to steal sensitive personal data. They also contact people for information, while pretending to be from a legitimate company.

Protect your identity and prevent criminals from committing fraud in your name by applying the following preventive measures: –

Security Tips

  • Be aware of the increased risk, if you live in a property where other people could have access to your mail.
  • If you think your mail is being stolen, contact the Royal Mail Customer Enquiry Line: 08457 740 740 to find out if a mail redirection order has been requested in your name, without your knowledge.
  • After moving house, instruct the Post Office to redirect your mail to your new address for at least a year. Notify your credit card company, bank, and any other organisations that you deal with as soon as possible.
  • Order a copy of your credit report regularly, (it costs around £2) from one of the three credit reference agencies, to ensure that only financial organisations you deal with have accessed your details.
  • If your credit cards are lost or stolen, cancel them by contacting the emergency numbers provided by your card company immediately; likewise if your passport or driving licence has gone missing, contact the issuing organisation as soon as possible.
  • Be on your guard, to prevent other people hearing or seeing your pin numbers and other personal information, when giving details over the phone, in a shop or on the Internet.
  • Look after important personal documents and don’t carry them with you unnecessarily, keep them safely at home in a lockable cabinet. Your bank will be pleased to store valuable documents, such as insurance policies, share certificates etc. for you.
  • Always check the entries on your bank statements and if you spot any unfamiliar transactions, query them with the company concerned at once.
  • Use a shredder to destroy old bills, credit card receipts, bank statements or other documents showing you’re identity, rather than risk putting them in the refuse bin.
  • Be aware that a bank or other financial organisation will never ask for your PIN No or a complete security number or password. Be suspicious of anyone who makes contact with you unexpectedly by telephone or e-mail, even if they claim to represent the police or a financial company.
  • Try to memorise your Pin numbers and passwords, rather than keep them in your wallet or purse that could be stolen. Always use different passwords (preferably composed of letters and numbers), for each account to increase security.
  • Protect your personal computer from Internet identity theft, by using passwords and the most up to date protection software. Use a personal firewall to secure your PC when online, especially if you are always connected via broadband.

How will I know if I have been a victim of identity theft or Identity Fraud?

Here are some typical examples that indicate cause for concern: –

You become aware that bank statements and other financial reports are no longer being received when expected.

You are contacted by a financial organisation that you have no contract with, regarding payments in arrears.

You apply for a new financial account, only to be told that your application has been declined, because you have defaulted on a loan you are unaware of. Yet you believed that your credit history was excellent.

On applying for a welfare benefit, you are informed that your name is on file as already claiming, when this is untrue.

If you suspect that you have been a victim of Identity theft or fraud, do investigate the problem without delay, otherwise it will prove more difficult to resolve.

Credit Reference Agencies: –

Equifax plc; Callcredit plc; Experian Ltd. Phishing… An Increasingly Prevalent Fraudulent Scam in the UK and Abroad.

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