How to avoid identity theft when you move home

Man settling into his new home

Moving home can be a challenging experience for even the most level-headed among us. Whether you’ve just bought a new home, are moving into rented property, or have other living arrangements, you’ve got a number of things to organise for the move. These can range from organising a mortgage or settling a deposit to figuring out how to get your belongings to your new place.

Even if you’re busy focused on working out which box is which and finding the fuse cupboard, it’s important to remember to move your identity, too. If you’re registered with your local council at your old address, your name is on the bills and your bank sends correspondence to you there, you’ve got to make sure to change your address ASAP.

If you don’t update your bank, credit card provider, utility companies or any other companies who write to you, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to the risk of identity theft. Your name and address are confidential, and if they get into the wrong hands, people could potentially take out money or open accounts in your name.

Here are some things that you can do to protect yourself against identity theft when moving house.

Make a list of everyone you need to contact before your moving date

Create a list of everyone you need to contact before you move. Don’t forget companies who may only write to you once in a while, such as your pension provider and TV Licensing. Let financial institutions and companies know that you’ve moved house by email or a phone call, and ask for email confirmation if possible to prove they’ve updated your address. This way, they should stop sending post intended for you to your old address – which could otherwise be intercepted by identity thieves.

Get your mail redirected

Arrange to have your mail redirected from your old address to your new one. This should minimise the chances of it falling into the wrong hands. It’s a good idea to leave redirection set up for at least a year. That way you can be sure you haven’t missed any companies that might only send you post infrequently.

Shred bank statements and personal correspondence you no longer need

When moving, you may be tempted to throw away papers that you don’t need anymore. Bear in mind that these could contain personal information, ranging from your address and date of birth to your bank account number and sort code. If you’re planning on disposing of these documents, ensure that you shred them properly.

After the move, keep an eye on all your bank statements for several months to check your cards aren’t being used fraudulently.

Keep personal data safe during the move

If possible, keep sensitive documents – for example, birth certificates, passports and financial statements – on your person during the move. Devices containing personal information, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, should also be secured during the move, and password-protected.

Check your credit report

You may want to check your credit report a few months after moving. This will tell you if there have been any applications for credit made in your name that you’re not aware of.

Your Equifax Credit Report & Score – which is free for the first 30 days then £14.95 monthly – gives you unlimited access to your report, which shows you your credit history, including any applications for credit made in your name.

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