Identity Fraud: How They Could Try to Access Your Information

Identity fraud is when personal details that have been accessed or stolen are used to commit - fraudulent acts.

Identity theft and fraud can have a number of consequences – it can cause a negative impact on your credit score or it may result in you being investigated for criminal activity if someone is committing crimes in your name. Therefore, it is important to know the ways by which you could become a victim of ID fraud. Learn more about some of the common ways a criminal might attempt to steal and use your identity.

Debit or Credit Cards

Debit and credit cards can be used to make purchases online or over the phone (sometimes without needing a PIN), which can make them popular targets amongst ID fraudsters.

Skimming ATMs has been a common method of obtaining credit or debit card information. It can involve implanting a device into an ATM that reads and lifts information from the magnetic strip on the back of a card. Mounted objects on or near the ATM, pieces of plastic or metal that don’t match the ATM’s original colour, or a protruding keypad could be indicators that the ATM has been tampered with, however it can be impossible to know for sure, and it is always recommended to always shield your pin.

Bank or Credit Card Statements and Other Mail

Bank and credit card statements usually contain your name, address, and details about your account that can be used by identity thieves to commit fraudulent acts, while any other mail you receive may also contain similar information. Fraudsters may forward your mail to another address sometimes known as a ‘collection address’, where they can intercept it and potentially steal any sensitive information.

Photo IDs

Photographic identification, such as a driver’s licence, can be altered by criminals to create a new identity or assume an existing one. This may then be used to open new accounts and build up debt.

PINs and Passwords

A PIN or password can allow easy access into another person’s accounts, making them popular targets for identity thieves and criminals.

Bank Accounts

By creating fake web pages to trick people into entering their personal details, criminals can attempt to gain access to online bank accounts where they can conduct transactions and money transfers.

Criminals may also try to get personal information by pretending to represent a bank or another trustworthy institution, and asking you to verify details about yourself.

Emails

Phishing is a method that involves sending fake or fraudulent emails that an unsuspecting victim might open, believing it is from a trusted source (e.g. .gov.uk). The email may try to convince you to send personal details in a reply or it could release a virus that attempts to steal information from your computer.

Social Networking Profiles

Criminals may target your social network profiles to gain information they could use to guess your password, PIN, or answers to a security question.

CVs

CVs can contain information such as your name, address, employment history, and contact details, which can be used to open new accounts and gain access to old ones. Fraudsters may attempt employment scams to get your CV – these can involve setting up fake job vacancies to open a point of contact. Researching companies beforehand can help you determine if they are genuine, either by verifying their contact details, checking their website, or searching for the company on Companies House.

Protecting Yourself

Identity theft and fraud can have a significant impact on your finances.

This can often be damaging and even costly to repair, therefore awareness around scam avoidance or learning how you can try to avoid ID theft may help you to prevent becoming a victim in the future.

WebDetect is one feature of Equifax Identity Watch Pro that alerts you if it discovers your financial details have been shared on websites used by fraudsters, helping you to respond quickly to potential threats. For £9.95 a month, Equifax Identity Watch Pro also provides you with unlimited access to your credit report online and gives you alerts within a day of any significant changes to your report. Learn more about Equifax Identity Watch Pro.

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