Best Practices for Avoiding Identity Theft
Identity theft is the process by which your personal details, such as your full name, date of birth, or current or previous address are stolen. If stolen details are used to gain goods and services, identity theft becomes identity fraud. Identity fraud can have a serious impact on personal finances and may make it difficult to apply for loans, mortgages, or credit cards. Whilst there is no concrete way to prevent identity theft, there are a few practices that can help reduce the chances of becoming a victim of such theft and fraud.
Protecting yourself against identity theft
Criminals can find personal information in a number of ways, such as going through your rubbish for documents or contacting you under the guise of a legitimate organisation. To prevent such occurrences, you may want to consider the following practices:
- Shredding or destroying anything with your name, address, or financial details before throwing them away can prevent criminals finding key information about you.
- Never revealing your full password, account, or log in details when you receive contact from what may seem to be your bank or building society can stop frauds from accessing your details. Banks should never ask for your PIN, nor your full passwords or security numbers.
- Checking bank statements regularly can help to pick up any suspicious transactions, allowing you to report it to your bank or financial service provider as soon as possible.
- Leaving bills, statements, and other sensitive documents out can be risky – storing them securely in a cabinet or safe can help make sure they are protected.
- Redirecting your mail when you move house can help safeguard against people mistakenly receiving any sensitive documents.
- Immediately cancelling any lost or stolen credit/debit cards can prevent others from using your accounts and details. Keeping a list of emergency numbers for such a situation can allow you to take action quickly.
- Keeping a variety of passwords memorised can reduce the risk of online identity theft. Identical passwords for multiple accounts, or using the same password for banking and other websites could leave you more vulnerable.
What to do if you’ve been a victim of identity theft
If you have any reason to suspect that your identity has been stolen, acting quickly could save you from serious damage. If the problem is left unresolved it could spiral out of control, and while you may have not purchased anything or opened any accounts yourself, the record will still be under your name.
- If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft or fraud involving credit or debit cards, online banking, or cheques, report it to your bank as soon as you can. They will be in charge of investigating the issue, and will report any criminal activity to the police.
- Calling Action Fraud for advice can be helpful if you are unsure about what to do.
- Contacting the Royal Mail if you believe your mail is missing or stolen can lead to them investigating the matter or giving you further advice on what steps to take.
- Checking your credit report can help you find any irregularities such as lender searches, credit card applications and credit accounts in your name.
Identity theft and fraud can be a very serious concern and may significantly impact to your financial situation. Taking preventative measures can help ensure that your information remains private. For more information on identity theft, visit the Equifax website.
- How to spot and avoid travel scams
- Infographic: What is a money mule?
- What is money laundering?
- What is a Ponzi scheme?
- How to report identity theft
- How to protect older people from being scammed
- Using contactless mobile payments and apps
- Safeguard your personal data when using smart home assistants
- Safeguarding your family’s personal data on smart toys
- How your identity could be stolen offline
- Protect against ID theft when making mobile payments
- Online Fraud Terminology
- What is anonymous browsing?
- Distributed Denial of Service explained
- How secure is your email?
- Identity theft and fraud explained
- Financial fraud explained
- Best practices for avoiding identity theft
- Stay safe online: Creating a secure password
- Scam avoidance: A few ways to help stay secure
- Are smart gadgets putting you at risk of identity theft?
- Helping your children stay safe online
- Should you share your location on social media?
- Safeguard your personal information on video game consoles
- Would you do internet banking on your smart TV?
- How fraudsters use Wi-Fi hotspots to steal data
- How to avoid email fraud
- Preventing your child’s identity from being stolen
- Keeping your personal information secure when moving home
- Protect yourself from becoming a victim of SMS phishing
- Protect against identity theft when sharing photos online
- Safeguard your identity on mobile apps
- Your social media profile and identity theft
- What is credit card fraud – can you prevent it from happening to you?
- How fraudsters can hijack your browser
- Safeguard your identity on Facebook and other social media sites
- Going on holiday - keeping your identity safe
- How to prevent smartphone identity theft
- Shopping online – staying safe against identity theft
- How to spot and avoid romance scams
- Facial recognition and identity risk
- Dealing with phishing phone scams
- How cyber attacks happen
- Safer Internet Day – protecting children online
- 7 Signs of Identity Theft
- How to avoid contactless card fraud
- What Are Data Breaches?
- How to Spot a Phishing Email
- ID Fraud Overview
- How Financial Crimes Are Hidden in The Dark Web
- How much do you know about the Dark Web?
- Are you losing your identity?