Keeping your identity safe

Identity theft occurs when criminals access their victims’ personal information and then use it for their own gain – for example by applying for credit in your name. Identity theft can happen in several ways, for example when a company that you have a relationship with has compromised your personal information (sometimes referred to as a data breach). Or a fraudster might try and get information from you directly. Follow the tips below and proactively protect your identity against fraudsters and scammers.

Protect your identity with the following tips:

  1. Unexpected phone calls. If you receive an unexpected phone call, remain vigilant, even if the caller seems to know a lot about you. Be very cautious about confirming personal details if asked and do not disclose information like account details, PINs or passwords. Call the organisation back on a different phone line.You should be able to find a telephone number on their their official website or historic communications. A legitimate company should not pressurise you into providing your personal information over the phone.

  2. Phishing scams and spam emails. Do not respond to emails asking for your personal information, i.e. account details, PINs or passwords, even if they appear to be legitimate. If you are concerned that this may be fraudulent activity contact the company directly using details from their official website or historic communications. Do not use any links or telephone numbers provided in the email you suspect to be fraudulent.

  3. Shred your documents. Identity fraud doesn't just happen online, so don’t give identity thieves a chance. Shred or destroy documents containing your personal information; e.g. receipts, bank statements, credit applications, insurance forms, expired credit cards and credit offers before you discard them. Even old catalogues with your name could help a fraudster steal your identity.

  4. Don’t overshare on social media. When you’re using social media, don’t give away too many personal details. Never share any information that might help fraudsters guess your passwords or answers to security questions. You can use Equifax Social Scan to check the public visibility of any personal information that you have entered on social media sites. It’s included with Equifax Protect.

  5. Review your financial statements. Take the time to check all your bank and credit card statements at least once a month. It can take months for fraudster to start using your information after your personal information has been compromised, so don’t assume that if you see nothing happen in a couple of weeks you are safe.

  6. Create strong passwords. Use passwords over eight letters long, using upper and lower case plus numbers and special characters if possible. Don’t use obvious words or number sequences (e.g. password 123) or any personal details. If you know that your personal data may have been compromised, change your passwords across all affected accounts. If you use the same password for multiple purposes change it in all places that it is used.

  7. Never write down or share PINs, account details or passwords.

  8. Register to vote at your current address. Lenders often use the electoral roll to confirm you live at the address on your credit application. If you are not registered at your current address then fraudsters may try to register you at a different address. If you move a lot you may wish to consider signing up to the Royal Mail redirection service.

  9. Regularly check your credit report. Equifax Protect gives you unlimited access to your Equifax Credit Report and an overview of many of your credit accounts. It will also alert you within seven days of any key changes to your Equifax Credit Report.

Equifax Protect helps alert you to potential identity theft

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