As more Brits move home, Equifax urges them to take precautions to protect their identity
Credit information provider offers identity protection tips for home movers
According to new data from Halifax*, home sales reached an 18-month high in August 2015. The number of UK house sales rose by 3% to 106,480 – the highest monthly total since February 2014 when the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme was launched. Whilst this rise in property moves is good news for the UK economy, Equifax, the online credit information provider, is urging home movers to take steps to protect their identity from theft and fraud during one of the most stressful periods in anyone’s life.
“There’s no question that there’s a lot to think about when moving home”, explained Lisa Hardstaff, Equifax credit information expert. “But it really is worth thinking about some simple steps to make sure that what is already a very stressful time doesn’t become even more fraught.
“Doing a clear out of old paperwork is often a task undertaken when preparing to move home. But rather than just tipping everything into a black bag for an opportunistic fraudster to rifle through, it’s vital that financial documents – and any other paperwork that contains personal information – is shredded. And, of course, getting mail redirected is essential to ensure that important documents don’t go to the wrong address.”
Data released by the Royal Mail** earlier this year revealed that more than 1 in 10 (15%) home movers said they received over 20 items of mail addressed to a former resident during their first month in their new home. And half (52%) of those said this included financial mail such as bank or credit card statements. Equifax believes this comprehensive study of more than 12,000 home movers shows the risks individuals are taking with their personal and financial information.
If people moving home don’t take out a Redirection Service or inform all their service providers of their change of address, their mail is likely to end up at their old address. And Equifax believes this means they won’t have any control over who might have access to potentially useful information to commit identity fraud. Just a few personal details could give fraudsters the keys to an individual’s identity, without their knowledge.
“Despite sustained campaigns by government, consumer bodies and other organisations, it appears that some consumers continue to be reckless with their personal information, perhaps not realising just how little fraudsters need to take control of their accounts, or to apply for credit and make purchases using their details”, added Lisa Hardstaff.
“We always urge consumers to treat their personal data as carefully as they would cash. Fraudsters need only a few pieces of information to begin fraudulent activity, so it’s crucial to be vigilant – and that includes keeping an eye on credit information for any changes or unauthorised account openings.”
Equifax’s top tips for home movers to avoid ID theft
- Shred financial and other documents that contain personal information
- If you are disposing of an old computer, or other electronic device that stores data make sure you remove the information from the hard drive
- Set up a redirect for mail for at least a year
- If regular statements don’t arrive at the new address at the normal time, alert the relevant company immediately
- Check statements carefully for any unauthorised transactions
- Don’t talk about the move on social media sites – unless you’re certain you know exactly who can look at your profile
- Apply for a copy of your credit report to spot any unauthorised activity – and consider a service that monitors for any changes to your credit information
Equifax recommends that consumers regularly monitor their credit report for any changes to accounts or new accounts they didn’t authorise, and to help protect their personal information online with Equifax WebDetect. The 24/7 ID monitoring solution helps keep consumers one step ahead of fraudsters by alerting them to potential unauthorised trading of their personal information. WebDetect is free for customers purchasing their Equifax Credit Report or Credit Score.
The Equifax Credit Report is accessible for 30 days free simply by logging onto https://www.equifax.co.uk/Products/credit/credit-score.html. If customers do not cancel before the end of the 30 Day Free Trial, the service will continue at £7.95 per month, giving them unlimited online access to their credit information and weekly alerts on any changes to their credit file. It also includes an online dispute facility to help them correct any errors on their credit file simply and quickly.
*Halifax House Price Index – 6th October 2015 – http://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/globalassets/documents/media/press-releases/halifax/2015/housepriceindexseptember2015.pdf
**Royal Mail Home Movers Study – July 2015 – http://www.royalmailgroup.com/1-10-home-movers-are-putting-themselves-risk-id-fraud-leaving-financial-details-doorstep
For further press information, please contact: Clare Watson, Cecile Stearn, Parm Heer or Wendy Harrison at HSL on 020 8977 9132 / Fax: 020 8977 5200 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Equifax is a global leader in consumer, commercial and workforce information solutions that provide businesses of all sizes and consumers with insight and information they can trust. Equifax organizes and assimilates data on more than 600 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide. The company’s significant investments in differentiated data, its expertise in advanced analytics to explore and develop new multi-source data solutions, and its leading-edge proprietary technology enable it to create and deliver unparalleled customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax operates or has investments in 19 countries and is a member of Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500® Index. Its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. In 2013, Equifax was named a Bloomberg BusinessWeek Top 50 company, was #3 in Fortune's Most Admired list in its category, and was named to InfoWeek 500 as well as the FinTech 100. For more information, please visit www.equifax.com.
Equifax Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.